Ebola total climbs to 2,277 amid security, reintroduction worries

first_imgThe pace of new Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held steady last week, but health officials are worried about activity rising in areas where transmission was low and new security incidents in several locations that threaten response operations.Meanwhile, the DRC health ministry yesterday reported 18 new cases, and the World Health Organization (WHO) online Ebola dashboard today reflects an additional 12 cases, which would boost the outbreak total to 2,277.Security incidents, cases in earlier hot spotsIn its weekly situation report on the outbreak, the WHO said Ebola activity continues with steady and sustained intensity, with security incidents returning to Beni—one of the outbreak’s former major hot spots—and armed group movements in Musienene and Manguredjipa impeding access to a health area next to Mabalako’s hardest-hit area.Another concern it aired is a tense security situation in neighboring Ituri province cities Bunia and Komanda in the wake of attacks in early June.Over the past few weeks, indicators show hints of easing transmission intensity in the two biggest recent epicenters, Katwa and Butembo. However, the optimism is offset by new cases in previously affected areas, including Komanda, Lubero, and Rwampara. For example, over the past week, Komanda reported its first case after going 11 days without one.On the positive side, with rigorous contact tracing and surveillance, health officials were able to pinpoint a single transmission chain in each of the two health zones, allowing swift follow-up by outbreak responders.Another infected health workerAccording to the DRC health ministry’s latest report, the 18 new cases are from 8 different locations, including 7 from Beni, 3 from Mabalako, 2 from Butembo, and 2 from Mandima. Also, Vuhovi, Lubero, Manguredjipa, and Musienene each reported one new illness.The patient from Lubero is a vaccinated health worker, a development that boosts the number of health workers infected in the outbreak to 123, which includes 39 deaths.Health officials are still investigating 296 suspected cases.Twelve more people died from their infections, including 7 in community settings and 5 in Ebola treatment centers. Since the outbreak began last August, the virus had been linked to 1,522 deaths.Following attacks on a vaccination team and a psychosocial support team in Beni earlier this week, response operations partly resumed yesterday after a security assessment. Officials talked to families involved in the attacks, and plans are underway for officials to hold talks today with young people in the areas where the attacks took place.The WHO said two responders were injured in the attacks, both of them day workers supported by the WHO.Possible deployment of second vaccineIn other outbreak developments, DRC health officials will meet in Kinshasa on Jun 28 to discuss the possibility of deploying and testing a second Ebola vaccine, Science reported yesterday.The report said officials are considering a second vaccine as a way to increase supply and gauge the effectiveness of a second vaccine.However, the DRC’s health minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, has said he prefers to focus on one vaccine, VSV-EBOV, to avoid upsetting the population, some of whom have rejected immunization efforts, with vaccination teams sometimes targeted by violence.The second vaccine officials will consider is the Johnson & Johnson Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN vaccine, which was recently recommended by a WHO advisory group, along with alternative vaccination strategies.Uganda updateIn a situation report on Ebola-related developments in Uganda today, the WHO said there are no active Ebola cases in the country, but there are three suspected cases in the Ebola treatment center. Two were negative in their first tests and are waiting to undergo a second round of testing. The patients are in fair condition. The third patient is a 52-year-old woman who has tested negative for Ebola twice, but her symptoms still require treatment.As of yesterday, 108 contacts were still under follow-up. So far, 1,063 people have been vaccinated, including 249 frontline health workers.The WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti, MD, today wrapped up a 2-day visit to Uganda’s high-risk Ebola districts. In a statement, she commended health workers and health ministry officials for how prepared they were to respond to the cases.Since the DRC’s initial outbreak in 2018, Uganda has trained more than 9,000 health workers to spot the signs of Ebola and has vaccinated 5,000 of them, the WHO said. “The cost of preparedness is cheaper than response,” Moeti said. “It is the contribution of donors that has enabled us to help countries prepare and, as we have seen in Uganda, prevent the tragedy of an outbreak escalating to unimaginable numbers.” See also:Jun 25 DRC updateJun 25 WHO Ebola situation reportWHO online Ebola dashboardJun 25 Science storyJun 26 WHO Uganda Ebola situation reportJun 26 statement on WHO visit to Ugandalast_img read more

Plug Power announces 2014 financial results

first_imgGet instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270. Subscribelast_img

Holistic reform of the PI system

first_img A 25% cap on success fees, regardless of the case type, is a prime example of the lack of foresight which has marred reform. The government believes that it will force lawyers to consider the merits of a claim more stringently, reducing spurious claims dramatically. What has not been considered, however, is that the introduction of such a cap will, on many occasions, make complicated injury cases commercially unviable. As the most complex cases tend to involve those with the most serious injuries, there is a significant risk that the most vulnerable will be denied access to justice. A lack of coherent thinking can also been seen in the ban of referral fees in PI cases – which was itself a hard-fought amendment to LASPO. My initial satisfaction at the ban soon dissipated when it became apparent that the wording and scope of it would not be adequate. The language used is ambiguous and, astonishingly, no attention has been paid to how the use of alternative business structures (ABSs) could potentially be used to circumvent the ban. Once again, an idea that was supposed to combat amoral profiteering and improve the legal experience for those involved in PI cases has been undermined. In reality, holistic reform of the PI system was highly unlikely to have emerged from the brief and narrow consultation process that followed the Jackson report. Whilst no one holds all of the answers to the numerous questions brought about by this process, addressing two key areas would have meant that many involved in the PI system would be celebrating a victory rather than mourning a litany of missed opportunities. First, while I would not have advocated the creation of a new quango or ombudsman to regulate the sector, reform would have greatly benefited from the appointment of a PI reform tsar to manage the process. The creation of such a role would have ensured that a single civil servant was responsible, helping to create a less politically or commercially motivated approach, which would potentially combat some of the contradictions and oversights previously mentioned. It is unsurprising that muddled views have emerged from a reform process that has involved a plethora of government departments including the Ministry of Justice, the Office of Fair Trading and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The pervasive presence of the insurance lobby throughout this process should also not be forgotten. Second, the reforms would have benefited from a close examination of what impact they will have on different cases. Yes, spurious and fraudulent claims do a great deal of damage to the PI system and combating them will go a long way to improving the reputation of the entire system. However, the lack of wide consultation has left us in a situation in which we are in great danger of the baby being thrown out with the bathwater. For clarity, I am not proposing that each claim should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis to judge, for example, the appropriate success-fee cap. Such a system would buckle under the weight of administration, delay and extra costs. However, it is completely feasible that cases are grouped by severity – clearly road accidents resulting in severe brain injury should require a different approach to those resulting in whiplash. Inadvertently, the proposals will make complicated injury claims an unviable financial risk for lawyers and, as the proposals stand, many will lose out. Broad policy brushstrokes have not left us with a masterpiece but rather a muddled, missed opportunity. Saving holism In less than six months the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) will come into force. A look back at the process which led to this makes me feel wholeheartedly that successful reform of the personal injury (PI) system has been scuppered by a hurried approach, a lack of joined-up thinking and a government so desperate to attack a perceived ‘compensation culture’ that they have embarked upon a way forward that will potentially harm among the most vulnerable in our society. There is no denying that the PI system in the UK is in need of reform. Our current system has resulted in high costs for the consumer, wealthy opportunistic insurers and has damaged the reputation of PI lawyers. The LASPO Bill was an opportunity for the government to give birth to a reformed personal injury system free from its previous ills. Therefore, it was with more than mild irritation that I watched the haphazard consultation process result in a piecemeal approach which snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. While it may be true that spurious and fraudulent claims should be reduced by the current proposals, it should also be recognised that the hurried, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will cause significant collateral damage. Most worryingly, those involved in serious cases, such as catastrophic injury, will suffer dramatically from an overzealous desire to stamp out all the claims targeted by such reform. A number of misstepscenter_img John Spencer is director of Spencers Solicitors I fear that unless the ABS circumvention issue is resolved and a much clearer definition of what constitutes a referral fee emerges, holistic reform of the PI system will remain as nothing more than a fantasy. Going back to basics, holism is defined in the Oxford dictionary as ‘parts of a whole that are in intimate interconnection, in such that they cannot exist independently of the whole, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts’. This is a far cry from the fragmented LASPO. A lack of joined-up thinking is not confined to ABSs and referral fees, but extends throughout the government’s approach to PI reform. The government has prioritised cost-cutting without a view to the wider implications of the changes they propose. For example, the decisions to extend the upper claim limit of the RTA PI Portal from £10,000 to £25,000, ignores the results of research commissioned by the MoJ which found that there is little justification for such an extension and will force the portal to consider more complicated cases for which it was not designed. The idea to channel more cases to the small claims court, risks further undermining access to justice by limiting legal representation for lower ‘value’ cases. While both changes will undoubtedly save money, the true cost will be to justice for injured parties. After all, the core goal of the PI system is to ensure justice is done for those who have been wronged. I fear the incoherent reforms which are taking place are indicative of the fact that the government and the main players in the PI system have lost perspective and I therefore urge the industry to adopt a mentality of holism, to put aside vested interests and ensure that a system emerges that benefits the public.last_img read more

Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal fight start time, PPV price, how to watch & live stream UFC 244

first_imgThe biggest UFC pay-per-view remaining in 2019 takes place on Saturday, Nov. 2, as UFC 244 takes place from Madison Square Garden in New York City.Canelo-Kovalev to start after UFC 244 ends: Watch on DAZN The main event features Nate Diaz fighting Jorge Masvidal to crown the BMF (Baddest Motherf—) champion.The bout almost didn’t make it to the finish line when last Thursday afternoon Diaz took to Twitter and said he wouldn’t be taking on Masvidal because USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, informed him that he had an adverse drug test finding, testing positive for a prohibited selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM).Your all on steroids not me pic.twitter.com/ykrZmRIoPS— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) October 24, 2019Diaz denied wrongdoing said, and if USADA and the UFC didn’t get the situation resolved, then he wouldn’t be getting on a plane for the event. A little more than 24 hours later, Diaz was cleared for UFC 244, and the test result was due to a contaminated organic, vegan and plant-based multivitamin. In August, Diaz (20-11) returned from nearly a three-year layoff after splitting two fights with Conor McGregor in 2016 and defeated Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision at UFC 241. During his post-fight interview, Diaz challenged Masvidal, who was sitting cageside at the event, to a loud ovation because he felt they were only the two legitimate fighters.”The reason I was off was because everyone sucks,” Diaz said. “There was no one to fight. Jorge Masvidal had a good last fight. Good last fight… There ain’t no gangsters in this game anymore. Nobody does it but me and him.”MORE: Full betting preview for Nate Diaz vs. Jorge MasvidalAt first, it appeared the UFC wouldn’t listen to what the fans wanted. Eventually, the company came around and booked the highly-anticipated clash at the “World’s Most Famous Arena”. While Masvidal (34-13) was well-known, he hadn’t been able to crack into the next tier of the sport. But that started to change slightly after venturing over to England and scored a vicious second-round knockout over countryman Darren Till. But it was what happened after the KO that made people take notice when he got into backstage incident with fellow welterweight Leon Edwards, who talked trash to Masvidal during an interview. Masvidal went on to throw numerous punches that connected to Edwards, which “Gamebred” termed it the “three-piece with the soda”. The saying caught the world’s attention.If the world didn’t know who Masvidal was, they knew him after UFC 239 when he notched the most brutal knockout of not only 2019 but in quite some time, throwing a flying knee to begin to the head of Ben Askren, and a couple added punches for good measure to win in just five seconds.There u go… boom! Fastest knockout in UFC history at 5 seconds! @GamebredFighter KOs @Benaskren #UFC239 pic.twitter.com/iYBcc42pl0— Haider Yutim (@hyder_yutim) July 7, 2019With one fight, Masvidal became an instant mega-star, and here we are.Diaz vs. Masvidal is expected to be one of the most exciting contests of 2019 and of recent memory. You have two guys fans are solidly behind so much that the UFC created a gimmick belt which they never do with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson putting the belt around the waist of the winner. While the main event has captured the attention of the sport’s world, the undercard is quite exciting as well.Here is everything you need to know about UFC 244.What time is the Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal fight?UFC 244 will take place Saturday, Nov. 2. Pay-per-view coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET. Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal should enter the Octagon around 12:15 a.m. ET.For fans also interested in the Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight title fight, that bout will not start until after Masvidal-Diaz has ended. The Canelo-Kovalev fight will be shown on DAZN.How to watch, live stream UFC 244The main card on pay-per-view can be purchased for $59.99. Every PPV can be seen exclusively through the end of 2025 on ESPN+. Where is the UFC 244 taking place?UFC 244 will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal betting oddsAccording to Sportsbook Review, Masvidal is a slight favorite. Jorge Masivdal is a -165 favorite, which means you’d need to bet $165 to win $100. Nate Diaz is a +139 underdog, meaning if you were to bet $100, you would net $139.Nate Diaz career record, bioName: Nate DiazNationality: AmericanBorn: April 16, 1985Height: 6-0Reach: 76 inchesTotal fights: 31Record: 20-11Jorge Masvidal career record, bioName: Jorge MasvidalNationality: AmericanBorn: Nov. 12, 1984Height: 5-11Reach: 74 inchesTotal fights: 47Record: 34-13 UFC 244 fight cardMain CardJorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz; Welterweight Kelvin Gastelum vs. Darren Till; Middleweight Stephen Thompson vs. Vicente Luque; Welterweight Derrick Lewis vs. Blagoy Ivanov; Heavyweight Kevin Lee vs. Gregor Gillespie; Lightweight Preliminary Card Corey Anderson vs. Johnny Walker; Light Heavyweight Shane Burgos vs. Makwan Amirkhani; Featherweight Brad Tavares vs. Edmen Shahbazyan; Middleweight Andrei Arlovski vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik; Heavyweight Jennifer Maia vs. Katlyn Chookagian; Women’s Flyweight Lyman Good vs. Chance Rencountre; Welterweight Julio Arce vs. Hakeem Dawodu; Featherweightlast_img read more

Lewandowski : No coach ever told me I could become a top player

first_imgAdvertisement 1htNBA Finals | Brooklyn Vsbpq97Wingsuit rodeo📽Sindre E30qi( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) 6ydxuWould you ever consider trying this?😱7dv9sCan your students do this? 🌚o9seRoller skating! Powered by Firework Robert Lewandowski may be a household name now and is currently one of world football’s most feared marksman but it wasn’t always merry sailing for the Polish striker. Lewandowski spoke to BBC Radio 5 and opened up about his childhood ambitions and his early days.Advertisement “Growing up my dream was to play in the big stadiums with 80,000 fans but when I was young in Poland, we did not have any top players. I knew I could not just think about my country – I had to think bigger.Advertisement “When I was six, I remember Roberto Baggio at the 1994 World Cup. When I was between 10 and 14, Alessandro del Piero was the best player for me. Then my idol was Thierry Henry. He was amazing – it was not just how he scored the goals but what he did for the team.“I wanted to be the same player like that, but to be Robert Lewandowski. I could take some aspects from one or two of the players and be like my idol. I remember when I met Henry, I was like ‘wow, I met my childhood idol’. Now he wants my jersey and I think, ‘amazing’.Advertisement “I believe that dreams come true.”Lewandowski then went to elaborate on his Warsaw days which was one of his challenging parts of his career.“Being released by Legia Warsaw was one of the worst situations in my life. I was injured for three months and I was coming back to training, not 100% fit, and needed time. I did not know what was going to happen after that season and if my contract was going to be renewed.“I never met a coach who told me, ‘look, you will be a top player’. I scored a lot of goals but I did not have from a coach who said, ‘if you do this and this better, you will play at at high level’.”Look where Robert is now – the man has scored 400 goals for club and country and reached double figures in 12 of the 13 seasons he has played. Advertisementlast_img read more

Gazette Flashback Friday

first_imgWELCOME to Flashback Friday. Each week the Gazette will delve into its archives to put together a gallery of faces…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img

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