Local fishers oppose $2.7 billion deal opening Madagascar to Chinese fishing

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Two months ago, a little-known private Malagasy association signed a 10-year, $2.7 billion fishing deal — the largest in the country’s history — with a group of Chinese companies that plans to send 330 fishing vessels to Madagascar.Critics of the deal include the country’s fisheries minister, who said he learned about it in the newspaper; environmental and government watchdog groups; and local fishers, who are already struggling with foreign competition for Madagascar’s dwindling marine stocks.Critics say no draft of the deal has been made public and the association that signed it did not conduct an environmental impact assessment or any public consultation.The issue has drawn media attention in the run-up to the presidential election on Wednesday. The incumbent and a leading candidate, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, was present at the fisheries deal’s signing, although he later claimed not to be familiar with it. Life on the coast of Madagascar is increasingly precarious. In recent decades, the overexploitation of marine life has made it difficult for hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishers to make a living. So it’s no surprise that they are vocally opposing a new agreement to bring hundreds of additional Chinese vessels into their waters.Two months ago, a little-known and ostensibly private Malagasy association signed a 10-year, $2.7 billion fishing deal — the largest in the country’s history — with a group of Chinese companies that plans to send 330 fishing vessels to Madagascar. Madagascar’s president at the time, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, was in the room when the deal was signed in Beijing on Sept. 5, although he later claimed not to be familiar with it. No draft of the deal has been made public, and its opacity has drawn media attention in the run-up to the presidential election on Wednesday. Rajaonarimampianina stepped down as president on Sept. 7, two days after the deal was signed, to comply with Malagasy law that requires a sitting president to leave office 60 days before an election in which he is running. He is a leading candidate in the election.On the Madagascar side, the Agence Malagasy de Développement économique et de Promotion d’entreprises (AMDP) made the deal, which the group says was designed to promote the country’s “blue economy.” It did so without consulting the fisheries ministry, the national environment office, or civil society groups, many of which are now calling for the deal to be scrapped. These critics say the AMDP failed to set up an open bidding process and did not conduct an environmental impact assessment or any public consultation. They also note that there’s limited information on fishing efforts and catches in Madagascar’s waters, so any new projects should be taken on with extreme caution.“I can’t help but wonder how 330 vessels in our coastal zone would contribute to a blue economy. Not everything that happens in the ocean is ‘blue,’” Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, country director for the international NGO World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), wrote in an op-ed in one of Madagascar’s leading newspapers.Activists have started an online petition to revoke the agreement, and some members of the government are equally concerned. Augustin Andriamananoro, the minister of fisheries, went on national television to voice his opposition to the deal, which he said he first read about in a newspaper.“This could bring about discord and, if we are not careful, it will cause our ocean to be overexploited,” he told TV Plus Madagascar on Oct. 5. “Madagascar’s natural resources are in danger, especially the fish. The fishers are shocked and concerned.”A cartoon that ran on the Malagasy news site 2424.mg. The caption reads “Blue Economy = 10-year fishing deal with China.” Image courtesy of 2424.mg.A deal without detailsThe AMDP signed what it describes as a “framework agreement” with a consortium of seven unidentified Chinese companies known as Taihe Century (Beijing) Investment Development Co., Ltd. The AMDP has said in public statements that the agreement will be a boon to the local economy, and said in a press release from Beijing when the deal was signed that it would create 10,000 jobs over the next three years.“As a civil society actor, we heard the needs of traditional fishers,” Hugues Ratsiferana, the AMDP’s CEO, wrote in an email to Mongabay. He said that Malagasy people would operate 300 of the fishing vessels, and that these would all be new, 14-meter (46-foot) vessels with 1,200-kilogram-capacity (2,646-pound) iceboxes. The new equipment will allow Malagasy fishers to modernize and professionalize their fishing practices, he said. The remaining 30 vessels will be 28 meters (92 feet) in length and used for surveillance, rescue and collection of catch.Though there has been a slow trickle of information regarding the deal, the lack of transparency has concerned observers. “The scale of this investment is unprecedented in the island’s history,” reads an Oct. 12 statement on the website of Mihari, a network of locally managed marine associations in Madagascar. “It is a great source of concern for our Network members and the entire fishing industry, especially as we have little information about the content of the agreement or the manner in which it will be implemented.”Last week, AMDP representatives met with civil society groups and explained a bit more about the agreement. The first phase of the project, worth $700 million over three years, will include investments in fishing, aquaculture, shipyards and technical training, according to slides from the AMDP’s presentation. The second phase, worth $2 billion, will include more fishing, an aquaculture “base” and unspecified logistical services.The AMDP representatives did not specify where the vessels would be based, the fishing would be done, or the projects would take place — not even for a planned pilot project. Nor did they present a complete breakdown of how the $2.7 billion would be spent.In an apparent attempt to mollify critics, AMDP representatives said at the meeting that Malagasy people would have first access to the catch and only the surplus would be shipped to China. (It is unclear how Taihe would make money by selling the fish in Madagascar, a low-income country, and Ratsiferana did not reply to a question from Mongabay on this subject.) They also said that each individual project within the framework agreement would be subject to an environmental impact assessment.However, civil society groups are still not satisfied that the deal was made in a fair and transparent manner. “The AMDP failed to answer our most important questions,” Frédéric Lesné, head of advocacy at Transparency International (TI) – Madagascar Initiative, told Mongabay after attending the meeting.On Friday, TI and other civil society groups announced their ongoing opposition to the deal, saying the AMDP had no experience in the fisheries sector, had refused to disclose information about Taihe, and had not made any social or environmental impact studies public.The AMDP’s Ratsiferana told Mongabay that critical civil society groups had shown “great naïveté” and that opposition to the deal was politically motivated. “During the electoral period in Madagascar, the [online petition] signatories, and first and foremost Transparency International (TI), were manipulated by interests and political issues that go beyond them,” Ratsiferana told Mongabay, referring to the upcoming presidential elections. (TI declined to respond to this claim, saying it had no basis in fact.)Fishermen in southwestern Madagascar carry a pirogue to the sea. Image by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay.What is the AMDP?Critics of the deal have also expressed concern about the AMDP’s unusual structure and unclear relationship to the Madagascar government and to then-president and current candidate Rajaonarimampianina.As president, Rajaonarimampianina officially launched the AMDP at the headquarters of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie in Paris in September 2016. Soon after, Madagascar hosted an international francophone summit, where the AMDP acted on behalf of the government to facilitate economic partnerships with other French-speaking countries. The group’s name, which identifies it as an “agency,” also implies that it is a government body.In the AMDP’s press release from Beijing in September, Rajaonarimampianina voiced his support for the fisheries deal — “the new silk roads run through Madagascar!” he said — and was one of a handful of people in the room when the deal was signed. The AMDP attached a photograph of the hand-shaking scene to the release, and Rajaonarimampianina can be seen at the back, in the middle.When questioned about the deal by Radio France Internationale (RFI), Rajaonarimampianina claimed not to know about it.Rajaonarimampianina has another tie to the AMDP: His son, Lovatiana Mickaël Rakotoarimanana, was on the AMDP’s board of directors when it was founded in 2016. (In an email to Mongabay, the AMDP’s Ratsiferana said Rakotoarimanana was no longer on the board.)Despite the AMDP’s work on behalf of the government and connections to the presidency, Ratsiferana said it was a “private association” and thus had no legal obligation to release a copy of the fisheries deal to the public.“[N]ot being a state-to-state agreement, but a protocol between private sectors and companies, we are bound to an obligation of confidentiality and private business secrecy,” Ratsiferana told Mongabay. “Have you ever seen in the press a publication of the agreement between Exxon and Aramco in the oil sector?” (Aramco, a state-owned oil company in Saudi Arabia, is notorious for its opacity.)But without a governmental mandate, it’s unclear how a private association like the AMDP could sign a deal of this scope, which will require, at the very least, a series of permits from the national environment office and licenses from the fisheries ministry. In response to a question regarding the AMDP’s authority to make such a sweeping international deal, Ratsiferana said, “The reality on the ground confirms a socio-economic backwardness in Madagascar and the need of the Malagasy population is clear: a better life. The AMDP is responding to this need.”The deal has drawn a lot of attention in local media and on social-media platforms, with many observers assuming corruption was a factor, or that the AMDP sold access to the president’s office. However, there is no direct evidence for either of these claims, and the AMDP has vigorously denied them. “I have not touched a single dollar,” Ratsiferana told RFI. “Neither me, nor the AMDP, nor Hery Rajaonarimampianina. I give you my word.”The president’s office, occupied in the interim by Rivo Rakotovao, a Rajaonarimampianina ally, declined to comment for this article. The AMDP declined to provide contact information for Taihe, and Mongabay was unable to reach the Beijing-based company, which has no online presence.Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who is running for reelection in this week’s presidential elections in Madagascar, spoke in London in 2015. Image courtesy of Chatham House via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).Foreign pressure on local fisheriesGlobally, China has the world’s largest fishing fleet. Chinese fishing companies, heavily subsidized by the government, have developed a reputation for overexploiting stocks and signing deals that lack transparency, or just not signing them at all. The vast majority of fishing by Chinese vessels goes unreported, amounting to about 2.5 million tons of catch per year around Africa alone, according to a 2012 European Union report.The Chinese fishing industry already had a presence in Madagascar prior to the signing of the agreement with the AMDP. Six Chinese vessels have been trawling for demersal and pelagic fish off southwest Madagascar since October 2017, according to the fisheries ministry. Small-scale fishers in the area say they feel the impact of the trawling on their catches, even from this relatively small fleet.“We mustn’t forget that with the arrival of just six industrial fishing boats in the Toliara region this year, some communities are already struggling to make ends meet,” Hermany Emoantra, a small-scale fisher in southwest Madagascar and Mihari’s president, said in the group’s statement. “So, imagine what could happen with 330 boats — how will these people live, where will they go?”Officially, these six are the only Chinese vessels working Madagascar’s waters, but the real number is believed to be much higher. Reports in the news and from local observers indicate that a large number of Chinese ships are working there illegally, sometimes using highly destructive fishing methods and strong-arm tactics to muscle local fishers off the water.But Madagascar’s small-scale fishers also face competition beyond the Chinese, for example from domestic and foreign industrial shrimp trawling and long-line tuna fishing by vessels from South Korea, Seychelles and Europe.Indeed, civil society groups are closely scrutinizing renegotiations of an EU fishing deal with Madagascar, which is due to expire at the end of the year. Fisheries experts have criticized past deals for prioritizing the profits of private EU companies over the interests of Malagasy people, and for lacking transparency. Late last month, Mihari and TI sent an open letter to both the Madagascar fisheries ministry and the EU asking for greater transparency and more cooperation with civil society groups during this round of negotiations.The fisheries deals with both the Europeans and the Chinese will be subject to at least an implicit approval by an incoming administration, which could quash them by denying foreign companies the necessary permits or licenses. So for Malagasy fishers, as for other sectors of society, much will depend on the results of the presidential election.A fishing boat in the town of Beheloke in southwestern Madagascar. Image by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay.Banner image: A fishing boat in the town of Beheloke in southwestern Madagascar. Image by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Rebecca Kesslercenter_img Biodiversity Hotspots, Conservation, Conservation And Poverty, Corporate Responsibility, Corporations, Developing Countries, Environment, Environmental Economics, Finance, Fish, Fishing, Governance, Green, Marine Animals, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Oceans, Poverty last_img read more

Record year for South African wine exports

first_img15 January 2014 The South African wine industry topped its previous export record in 2013, with volumes sold reaching 525.7-million litres, a 26% increase on the previous high achieved in 2012, Wines of South Africa (Wosa) said in a statement on Monday. Strong year-on-year growth occurred in established and newer markets. Wosa’s new CEO, Siobhan Thompson, attributed the dramatic growth to a bumper harvest that allowed South Africa to fill the gap created by a poor European harvest as well as to penetrate new markets. Sales to the UK, still the country’s biggest export destination, accounting for just over one-fifth of total export volumes last year, rose 21% to 111.2-million litres. Volumes to Germany, where South Africa is the biggest “New World” supplier, increased by 24% to 96.5-million litres, while exports to Russia were up 18% to 37.3-million litres. “It is encouraging that strong gains were achieved in the UK and Germany, our two biggest markets, where packaged wines in particular showed very healthy growth,” Thompson said. “Packaged wines to the UK were up 31% and to Germany by 17%. At the same time, exports also grew across an increasingly broad range of other markets.” She said the substantial growth in Russian sales was partly the result of the shortfall in the European harvest, where in some cases yields were the lowest in 40 years. “This was also the reason South African sales to wine-producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain increased so dramatically. However, we see as significant the impressive growth in high potential markets such as the US, where we are confident of achieving long-term growth.” Thompson said exports to the US, a market of fast-growing importance to the country, increased by 37%, buoyed by improved distribution and ongoing positive media exposure. This included very favourable reviews in high-profile wine publications such as Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate and among the very influential blogger fraternity. The US is currently the world’s biggest market for wines. Strong gains were also achieved in Denmark, where packaged sales were up by 21%, and good inroads were made in many of Africa’s major economies as well as in Japan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. Overall, white wine sales rose by almost 18%, and reds by 22%. Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage and Merlot saw the biggest increase in volumes exported. “South Africa is increasingly perceived as the source of interesting, original and well-made wines, able to appeal to Americans eager to expand their repertoire,” Thompson said. “This is a very good positioning from which to build our base, particularly as we target Millennials, who are especially eager to encounter new taste experiences.” She noted that the increase in bulk volumes of wines exported, from 59% in 2012 to 65% in 2013, was largely because of opportunistic buying on world markets prompted by the poor European harvest. This situation was not unique to South Africa, she said, and had affected other New World wine-producing countries as well. SAinfo reporter and Wines of South Africalast_img read more

Alabama ~ Sales and Use Tax: Updated Chart Shows Local Participation in 2017 “Back-to-School” Tax Holiday

first_imgCCH Tax Day ReportThe Alabama Department of Revenue has revised a chart that reflects the latest information concerning the counties and municipalities that have notified the department regarding their participation in the “back-to-school” sales tax holiday being held from July 21 through July 23, 2017.The updated chart reflects the participation by Andalusia, Brent, Castleberry, Conecuh County, Coosa County, Crenshaw County, Eclectic, Elmore, Enterprise, Gardendale, Greensboro, Guin, Hurtsboro, Leeds, Limestone County, Marion County, Pickens County, Pinson, Saraland, Valley, and West Blocton, which are only participating in 2017.Butler, Chelsea, Chickasaw, Childersburg, Demopolis, Glencoe, Grove Hill, Guntersville, Hamilton, Level Plains, Littleville, Morgan County, Muscle Shoals, Shelby County, Southside, Talladega, Town Creek, Union Springs, and Vincent are participating on an annual basis.Bakerhill, Banks, Beaverton, Blue Springs, Brookwood, Coffee Springs, Cordova, County Line, Daviston, East Brewton, Ethelsville, Frisco City, Glenwood, Goldville, Gordo, Gordon, Gurley, Hammondville, Hobson City, Hodges, Kellyton, Langston, Leesburg, Louisville, Lowndesboro, Lynn, Marshall County, Millry, Moody, Mosses, Mulga, Napier Field, New Site, Ohatchee, Pleasant Grove, Ragland, Riverview, Sand Rock, Silas, Thomaston, Toxey, Valley Grande, Waverly, and West Jefferson are not participating in the tax holiday.The list of participating localities will be updated by the department as it receives information. The chart listing localities that have notified the department regarding their participation in the tax holiday can be found on the department’s website at http://revenue.alabama.gov/salestax/STholiday.cfm. Localities that do not levy a sales tax are not listed.“Back to School” Sales Tax Holiday Notice, Alabama Department of Revenue, April 21, 2017last_img read more

Top stories: Elephants crush cancer, epigenetics influence sexual orientation, and kitty contraceptives

first_imgHomosexuality may be caused by chemical modifications to DNAA new study reveals that homosexuality may be linked to our epigenetics, chemical modifications that alter gene activity without changing DNA sequences. Scientists analyzed the DNA of 37 pairs of male identical twins and found five regions in the genome that had epigenetic patterns closely linked to sexual orientation. The team was able to predict male homosexuality in the study group with 70% accuracy, though researchers caution that rate could be much lower in the general population.DNA ‘vaccine’ sterilizes mice, could lead to one-shot birth controlSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Kitty contraceptives could be right around the corner. Scientists are reporting that a new injection makes male and female mice infertile by tricking their muscles into producing hormone-blocking antibodies. If it works in cats and dogs, it could be a breakthrough in controlling reproduction in feral animal populations: Nearly 2.7 million dogs and cats were euthanized in U.S. shelters last year, and the only current option for contraception—spay and neuter surgery—is costly and time consuming.Australian campaigners win gene patenting victoryAustralia’s highest court this week ruled that an isolated gene sequence is not a “patentable invention.” This decision brings an end to a long-running legal saga that was launched in 2010 by a cancer survivor over patents on genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2—that significantly increase a woman’s chance of breast and ovarian cancer. Although the full implications of the ruling are not yet clear, this brings Australian law in line with that of the United States, South America, and most of Asia.Humans are worse than radiation for Chernobyl animals, study findsSurprisingly, a new study finds that wildlife living in a radiation-contaminated preserve near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine is not only surviving, but thriving now that humans no longer live in the area. Scientists are not suggesting radiation is good for the animals, but they are suggesting that the results of human habitation are far worse.How elephants crush cancerIt has long been a mystery why elephants aren’t riddled with cancer. The larger an animal and the longer it lives, the more likely it is to get cancer. That’s because it has so many more opportunities for mutations to crop up during cell division. Now, a new study shows that the genome of the African elephant contains 40 copies of a cancer-busting gene. Humans have only two copies of this same gene. These bonus genes might enable elephants to weed out potentially cancerous cells before they can grow into tumors.Mars once hosted lakes, flowing waterThe evidence of water on Mars keeps flowing. A new analysis of images gathered by NASA’s Curiosity rover provides the strongest proof yet that Mars was once warm and wet enough to have lakes and flowing water year-round—possibly for millions of years. Images and samples from Curiosity’s stroll along Gale crater hint that the Red Planet once had a climate hospitable enough for microbial life to develop and evolve.Most worker ants are slackersLots of research has shown that putting in more than 40 hours of work a week can be counterproductive. But what about ants? Scientists have found that the insects are far less industrious than anyone suspected. After watching five colonies of ants for 2 weeks, they concluded that only 3% of the ants were always working, 25% never worked, and a whopping 72% were inactive at least half of the time. When it comes to slacking, the lazy ants win.last_img read more

Sport Australia Welcomes Major Boost in Sport Funding

first_imgSport Australia Chair John Wylie has welcomed the Australian Government’s $385.4million package for sport and physical activity announced in last night’s Federal Budget, declaring it as one of the biggest funding injections for sport in years.The Federal Budget delivered more than $158 million of new investment directly to Sport Australia and the AIS, helping to fund community participation initiatives through to additional support for Australia’s high performance athletes. An additional $54.1 million will be invested in high performance sport for athlete pathways and wellbeing, while school and community infrastructure programs will be expanded.“This funding creates incredible opportunity for sport, from children learning to play and be active through to talented athletes representing and inspiring the nation,” Wylie said. “It is one of the biggest funding injections in Australian sport in years.”Wylie said the extension of the national Sporting Schools program was an important feature of participation funding. Sporting Schools, which has reached 85 per cent of schools in its first four years, received a further $40million in funding to extend the program until the end of 2020.“Sporting Schools can be a vital catalyst for improving the health of young Australians.” Wylie said. “We want to give every Australian child the opportunity to grow up happier and healthier through a connection with Sporting Schools.“Since its launch in 2015, more than 7,100 schools have been funded by the Sporting Schools program and there have been almost 4.8million attendances in Sporting Schools activities.“Sport and physical activity is vital to the overall development of children, including their mental wellbeing. The beauty of Sporting Schools is that it’s free, so the opportunity is there for every school child, no matter their location, background, ability or socio-economic status.“Creating healthier habits in our children will take time, but it’s unquestionably worth the effort because we know active kids are far more likely to become active adults. One positive connection with Sporting Schools could help make a lifetime of difference.”Sport Australia’s AusPlay research shows 81 per cent of Australian children are not meeting recommended physical guidelines. To combat this, Sporting Schools partners with 33 national sports to provide free and fun sporting opportunities for children before, during and after school.Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer says: “We welcome the Australian Government’s investment and confidence that Sporting Schools can help drive behavioural change in our children, enabling them to reap the enormous benefits sport and physical activity can provide.”Another key investment in last night’s Federal Budget was an extra $42.5 million for the Move It AUS Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program. The program was launched this financial year and has already provided more than $60million for more than 450 projects around the country to upgrade community sporting facilities.“In delivering on the national sport plan, Sport 2030, Sport Australia’s vision is for Australia to become the world’s most active sporting nation and access to active spaces is critical to get more Australians moving,” Palmer says.“Building better sporting facilities is about building stronger, healthier communities by promoting physical activity, social connection, civic pride and economic vitality.”Media contact: Chris Wilson 0407 135 280 or chris.wilson@sportaus.gov.aulast_img read more

Jim Harbaugh Jokes About The Positives Of Global Warming, For The Recruiting Benefits

first_imgMichigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh and starting quarterback Wilton Speight #3 watch the video replay during the first quarter of the game.ANN ARBOR, MI – SEPTEMBER 16: Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh and starting quarterback Wilton Speight #3 watch the video replay during the first quarter of the game against the Air Force Falcons at Michigan Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)Update: Here’s video of Harbaugh’s joke, from Big Ten Network.“We got global warming now, Tom, so that’s really helped recruiting.” – @CoachJim4UM, to @Patriots QB Tom Brady https://t.co/YSJQWFhQMz— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) February 3, 2016Earlier: Global warming is not usually a considered a good thing, but don’t tell that to Jim Harbaugh. For Michigan’s head coach, anything that makes Ann Arbor a bit more attractive to recruits is a positive. He explained on Michigan’s “Signing Of The Stars” event.Jim Harbaugh a proponent of climate change. “We’ve got global warming now. That helps with recruiting.”— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) February 3, 2016He’s obviously joking, we think. We haven’t heard Ric Flair, Jim Leyland, or Migos’ opinions on the matter yet, but they’re on hand for the event, if we really want to get into the science on this one.last_img read more

Landing the big one Kelly Barefoot lures them in

first_imgby Charles Upchurchphotographs by Geoff WoodThe airbrushed colors come at night. The green and orange of an autumn leaf. The silver-blue of darting fish. Soon, the airbrush is out again. Flawless transitions. Scale patterns in geometric perfection.As a craftsman who has mastered the art of the fishing lure, Kelly Barefoot of Raleigh is a natural phenomenon, an organic product of the North Carolina Piedmont, where fishing with crankbaits – lures that mimic the swimming action of bite-size creatures that largemouth bass and other freshwater gamefish love to attack – is a serious business.Since launching Custom Lures Unlimited in 2003, the former health services administrator has gone from lure repair man (restoring and re-painting lures in his spare time) to lure guru. His lures have won top industry awards, are used by world champion fishermen, and are sold all over the globe. In a consumer niche where most goods are mass-produced overseas, Kelly Barefoot’s are hand-painted. Word-of-mouth buzz, powered by critical praise in fishing magazines and the internet, has put CLU and its founder on the map.“Kelly has that rare combination of talent and passion, which is rare in the tackle industry,” says Thomas, founder of CarolinaOutdoors.net. “He has extremely high standards for his lures, and it shows.”Barefoot’s home studio, midway between Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina, is also home to his newest brainchild, a fledgling lifestyle brand simply tagged Catch. With it, he aims to sell fishing products and outdoor equipment like kayaks, camping gear, apparel and accessories.      “My dream for Catch is a small retail shop with a rustic cabin feel where folks can hang out and spend time,” said Barefoot. “And then, maybe a little mountain cabin of my own.”It’s a dream within striking distance. When Bassmaster magazine, the bible of the sport, offered hosannas, the crankbait faithful were converted. The CLU collection, including the IKON M2 (named for Bassmaster World Champion Mike Iaconelli) and the groundbreaking Zero Gravity Jig (winner of the coveted Tackle Tour Innovation Award) are sold in sporting goods and outdoor retailers across the country, as well as at TackleWarehouse.com, the world’s largest online fishing tackle outlet.     Local talentBarefoot, 46, grew up in the furrowed farm country between Angier and Benson. His parents commuted to jobs in Raleigh – dad with Carolina Power & Light, mom as a teacher. With his older brother David he hunted and fished, often with their father and grandfather, related as much to the nearby ponds, reservoirs and winding tributaries of the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers as they were to each other.His earliest fishing memory is of Pitchkettle Creek, a turbid backwater near New Bern where ocean-going hickory shad converge every spring during their annual run to inland spawning grounds. “I remember being in a little wooden boat with my grandfather, surrounded by cypress trees and Spanish moss,” he said. “I don’t recall catching any fish, but it was magic.”In Cub Scouts, Barefoot made his first lure. His father opened an archery shop for hunters and let the boys paint crests on the arrows. Their mother took them to ceramics classes where they decorated pottery. Barefoot remembers the sketchbooks he filled – not with superheroes or spaceships, but with deer, birds and fish. As a teenager he would carve and paint wooden baits to fill his tackle box. While majoring in psychology at UNC Wilmington, he discovered fly fishing, and found himself stalking bluefish in the saltwater currents of Masonboro Inlet with flies he tied in his apartment.But fishing remained a hobby. When Barefoot returned to the Triangle, it was to work with the N.C. Infant-Toddler Program, part of the Children’s Developmental Services Agency, diagnosing and coordinating services for special needs children. He married Heidi, a Knightdale native and Campbell University graduate who became a successful pharmacist. Their kids, a daughter, Macie, and son, Colby, are now 14 and 12. Barefoot continued to fish the waters he knew best, competing in amateur bass tournaments with lures of his own design. And winning.Bass ate it up“I had an old Bagley’s lure that I loved,” said Barefoot. “But they stopped making the ugly blue one I liked so much.” So he painted one. Sure enough, bass ate it up. He played with color combinations, drawn to the tones and textures in nature – a leaf, a sunny stream – that visited him so often in dreams that he started keeping a pen and paper at his bedside. Inspiration was everywhere. “Have you ever walked down the shampoo aisle at Walmart? The colors are awesome.”In fishing, of course, a little luck never hurts. In 1997, Jeffrey Thomas, a professional angler from Broadway, N.C., asked Barefoot to repaint one of his lures. Barefoot did, and when Thomas netted consecutive nine-pound lunkers, Barefoot became that rare discovery that fisherman love to know about but would rather you didn’t. A wizard with an airbrush, he specialized in taking a favorite, time-worn lure and making it like new, but better. The word was out, and the orders flowed in. By 2003, Barefoot had christened his growing enterprise Custom Lures Unlimited. He built a web site and soon had a nationwide customer base.    Then, three years later, just as Barefoot was offered the biggest job of his 15-year health services career, he bailed. “I was sitting in a meeting and realized I was drawing little fish,” he said. “I didn’t want to be there.” He told Heidi he was quitting. Like the hickory shad, he pointed upstream.He knew that restoring lures was not going to get him that cabin in the Blue Ridge. He had to create a brand. Experimenting with shape, pattern and color, he marketed original designs online while still doing repaints. Then came the call from Iaconelli, the 2003 world champion. The two had hit it off at a trade show, and Ike was looking to team up. The result was the IKON, which remains the premier wooden lure from CLU. Iaconelli fished with it on the pro tour. Barefoot’s star was rising. Tackle companies wanted to work with him. Touring pros jumped on board.  Sales spiked. But the trophy moment was yet to come.When Barefoot introduced the Zero Gravity Jig, it was the designer who surfaced as the icon. The lure was a masterpiece of metallurgy and biomimicry. The fishing media cheered, and it sold at a clip of more than 12,000 per month.Customers started asking Barefoot to sign their lures. He met one who told him he had gone to Gander Mountain and bought every Kelly Barefoot lure they had. “How do you like ’em?” Barefoot asked. “Oh, I don’t fish with them,” came the answer. “I’m saving them for when you’re… you know.”Catch Outdoors Supply Co. was created by Barefoot last year to expand his business into licensed products beyond lures. In his shop, rustic mountain cabins bid welcome from the covers of magazines.  When he’s not painting or assembling lures, he’s coaching Colby’s baseball team or catching Macie in a dance recital. When the weather cools down and the bass get frisky, he’ll head to the Cape Fear River near Jordan Lake. Meanwhile, as nights grow longer, a pen and paper lie waiting.More information: go to customluresunlimited.comlast_img read more

Spotlight Not your fathers thrift shop

first_imgFather and Son AntiquesDon’t let the rack of vintage clothes plunked down on the sidewalk – or the store’s name, for that matter – mislead you. Inside the two-story emporium of vintage-ness on West Hargett Street, Father and Son Antiques also stocks a revolving assortment of sought-after mid-century modern furniture and accessories without the typical high-dollar prices. For nearly two decades, owners Brian and Kiyomi Ownbey has been selling these in-demand pieces along with vintage clothing, records, and “a little, kitsch too” to customers not only in Raleigh, but all over the country.Courtesy of Father and Son AntiquesChosen by The New York Times in 2009 as one of the must-visit places for 36 hours in Research Triangle, N.C. (before Raleigh was considered a destination of its own), the store has attracted mid-mod devotees – and celebrities like actress Hilary Swank – who keep up with new arrivals via Facebook and Instagram feeds. Savvy out-of-town dealers snap up bargains from notables like Bertoia, Eames, Knoll, and Saarinen and have them shipped sight unseen. Raleighites get to see what’s new in person while – vehicle permitting – taking home what they’ve scored instantly. So while loading up the George Nakashima chair, consider grabbing a ’70s Disco dress or a puffy ’80s one-piece ski suit for that upcoming Halloween party. -J.R.Father and Son Antiques: 107 West Hargett St. Find Father and Son Antiques on Facebook and Instagramlast_img read more

Monica Laliberte

first_imgWRAL’s Monica Laliberte poses with Idle, a Golden and Labrador Retriever cross at WRAL’s gardens in Raleigh.by Mimi Montgomeryphotograph by Travis Long“If I could have 12 dogs, I would.”– Monica Laliberte, WRAL 5 on Your Side reporter and Canine Companions for Independence volunteerYou probably know Monica Laliberte as the face of WRAL’s 5 On Your Side, fighting for the rights of consumers. Fewer know that when she’s off duty, Laliberte fights for another cause: the rights of people with disabilities to live independent lives. For the past 11 years, she has been a volunteer trainer for Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit that provides assistance dogs.In her early reporting days, Laliberte covered a piece on assistance dogs and was instantly intrigued. “I thought this was a great thing that my whole family could be a part of that was charitable,” she says. They tried it and were hooked – her family recently started training their seventh puppy.Each Canine Companion volunteer undergoes a rigid screening process and is educated on how to properly train an assistance dog. Then they receive a puppy from the organization’s California headquarters (usually either a golden retriever, labrador, or a mix) and train it for 18 to 20 months on socialization, commands, and manners. Once the puppy graduates, it’s sent “off to college,” as Laliberte puts it, where the dog works with professional trainers for six to 10 months on everything from how to open and close drawers to how to retrieve things out of the fridge. It’s an intense process. “These dogs pretty much have to be perfect,” she says.Of course, each dog’s graduation comes with a bit of heartache. “We cry our eyes out every time,” she says. “It’s kind of like giving up a child.” But she knows each puppy will go on to serve a huge purpose. “I think it’s so fulfilling…to see how these dogs change people’s lives. How they not only just help people to function in everyday life (but also) the social interaction that that dog can provide people – it’s just huge.”last_img read more

Natural treasures The extraordinary collection of Dr Jim Goodnight

first_imgGoodnight’s collection fills the SAS founder’s extensive office suite. He holds Pyrite Cubes in matrix from Navajun, Spain. The green mineral beside him is Prehnite from the Sichuan Province, China.by Catherine Kimrey Breedenphotographs by Jimmy Williams “When I was a young boy, about 10 or 11 years old,” says Jim Goodnight, “and living on the edge of town in Greensboro, I’d venture out into the surrounding area and look for arrowheads and quartz crystals.”Years passed, and Goodnight’s boyhood fascination with natural objects found in or beneath the earth’s crust took a back seat to other interests while he earned distinction as one of the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs. The founder of multi-billion-dollar business analytics software giant SAS, Goodnight is also a philanthropist and advocate for education.“Then,” Goodnight says, “about 20 years ago I was at an antique store in Blowing Rock and saw a couple of nice specimens and thought they would look nice at home. That’s when I started collecting.”Emerald on Limonite from Hiddenite, N.C.    And so – with the purchase of a banded fluorite from China and a kyanite cluster from Brazil – began a significant mineral collection that sparkles and shines in the corridor leading to Goodnight’s office at Cary’s SAS headquarters.Numbering more than 400 items, the collection throws off every color of the spectrum and spills over into his office and conference room. Each specimen sits atop a Plexiglas pedestal. The name and provenance of each mineral is etched into its base.A year after his initial purchase, Goodnight says, he was in Sedona, Ariz., where 10 more minerals caught his eye. That began Goodnight’s habit, one that continues to this day, of buying 10 to 12 minerals, rocks, fossils – or perhaps a meteorite, dinosaur egg, or piece of fossilized wood – every year. Goodnight travels to gem and mineral shows to find the new additions. He says he goes with an open mind and selects only those objects that strike his fancy.For a man known to be taciturn and private, Goodnight is passionate and forthcoming when discussing his hobby. “Lately what I look for are things that are old and unusual,” he says. “Just looking at the beauty of nature and all the things that have been created inside the earth, you have to be amazed by all the colors and formations that are out there.”This emphasis on beauty is consistent with the sensibility of a man who, with his wife Ann, is a noted patron and collector of the visual arts.  He credits her with the idea, as his collection grew, of incorporating museum-style shelving in his office suite to house his treasures. He also mentions, as an aside, that she had made it clear there would be no rocks in their home library.As he shows a visitor around, it is obvious that Goodnight, a self-described “science and math person,” loves each piece of his collection. He points first to one and then another, extolling its color, structure, texture, point of origin, and other features that drew him to it. He picks up and cradles individual pieces, some quite fragile, in his large hands as he points out their appealing aspects.Here is pyrite from Peru, displaying the naturally occurring cube shapes that distinguish the mineral; there is pure white quartz from India looking like a cluster of icy snowballs; here is brilliant green malachite from the Republic of Congo; there is glowing purple fluorite, a perfectly preserved specimen presented on its matrix of sphalerite, from Tennessee. There is a 70-million-year-old nautilus-shaped fossil from Oklahoma; nearby sits a fossilized dinosaur egg from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.Viewing these treasures from nature, Goodnight describes their sculptural shapes and saturated colors as being the “first art; art that can’t be replicated by man.”A recent acquisition that Goodnight particularly prizes is a piece of crystallized gold from Kalgoorlie, West Australia.  He explains that the specimen, with its intricate and perforated shape, is rare because, unlike most gold, it has not been smoothed by water. And he mentions that North Carolina was one of the first gold-producing states.The collection contains a number of pieces from North Carolina, among them emerald on limonite from Hiddenite, which for many years had the only known emerald deposits in North America; mica and red garnet from Spruce Pine; agate from Reedy Creek in Raleigh; pyrite on quartz from Cary; quartz with chlorite from Durham; and pyrite in pyrophyllite and quartz from Glendon.Nineteen states are represented – from California with its pink halite to New York with its double-terminated crystal Herkimer diamond.All told, the Goodnight collection contains specimens from some 40 countries, ranging alphabetically from Afghanistan with its bicolor tourmaline to Zaire with its stunning combination of malachite and chrysocolla.While not many people are privileged to view and appreciate the collection in its entirety, Goodnight has loaned some special pieces to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where they can be seen by the public.Betsy Bennett, the museum’s former director – for whom the Betsy M. Bennett Bridge to Discovery connecting the museum to its Nature Research Center wing is named – collaborated with Goodnight to select the 24 minerals displayed on that bridge.She is enthusiastic about the educational opportunities these specimens provide, and with their “wow factor,” which she says encourages learning in the museum setting. Bennett finds it gratifying to watch families and school groups discover and exclaim over the minerals, pointing out that the display also dovetails nicely with Goodnight’s longtime work to improve education for all children.Back in his office, Goodnight keeps a favored piece, a large citrine from Brazil, behind his desk. This golden colored quartz – known as “The Merchant’s Stone” – is associated with success, personal power, prosperity and abundance, especially in business.  It is also said to promote generosity and sharing.While Goodnight says that he doesn’t consider any of his minerals to be good-luck charms, the qualities attributed to citrine quartz are clearly reflected in his life as a visionary innovator and generous community contributor.In a poetic turn, Goodnight’s collection also contains two arrowheads that were discovered on the very site where SAS is located. Those arrowheads date to the Archaic Period, which is the second oldest known cultural period in North Carolina (c.8000 B.C. to c.1000 B.C.).The serendipity of this occurrence, bringing the past into the present, raises the question of whether Jim Goodnight’s Merchant’s Stone just might have some magical properties, whether he believes so or not.last_img read more