L$15K Monthly Salary a ‘Mockery of Judges’

first_imgA war of words ensured yesterday between judges and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court when a judge assigned to Criminal Court ‘B’, Judge Gevon Smith, described their L$15,000 monthly salary as a “mockery of judges.”That utterance did not go down well with Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, who subsequently responded as saying, “judges need to be grateful with their current remuneration.”The L$15,000 is equivalent to US$147 at the current exchange rate of US$1 to L$102.Besides the L$15,000, judges receive US$5,000 each as allowance plus unspecified number of scratch cards, gasoline, medical and housing benefits.Judge Smith publicly expressed his colleagues’ concerns when he delivered his charge at the opening ceremony of Criminal Courts, A, B, C, D and E, at the Temple of Justice yesterday.“It is unequivocally stated in our code of ethics and judicial cannon that a judge must not engage in any commercial activities; his likelihood should depend strictly on entitlement as a judge,” Smith told his audience, including the Chief Justice.“So, a judge who serves in such a position for over 15 years, when attained retirement age must receive 50 percent of his present L$15,000 monthly salary, which is L$7,500. This is a ridiculous situation against the judges,” Judge Smith noted before the huge crowd of fellow judges, lawyers and prospective jurors at yesterday’s ceremony.“We expressed gratitude for considerable adjustment made in the allowances for judges, but when it comes specifically to the issue of retirement, the situation is laughable,” Smith told the gathering.He reminded Chief Justice Korkpor that, “as we strive to attract more qualified human capital to the judiciary, it is proper to give attention to the issue of judges’ retirement.”Smith, who compared judges’ retirement benefits to that of employees of other branches of government, particularly the legislature, said retirement benefits of former legislators, who after one legislative term were ousted by their constituencies due to poor performance, were receiving four times of what the judges were entitled to. He added that legislators are not barred from engaging in commercial activities.“This is pure marginalization against the judges,” he added.However, Justice Korkpor told the judges that they need to be grateful for the level of remuneration they were receiving.“I know how things were like, I know the inner workings of the judiciary, and I know how much they were making, but they need to acknowledge where we have come from, and they need to be grateful for where we are going,” Korkpor said.“I am not going to disclose the amount now, but they were receiving less money when we took over. They should encourage so that we could do more for them.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

BaiShanLin gold mining, other operations unaffected

first_imgBaiShanLin gold mining, other operations unaffectedBaiShanLin International Forest Developers Inc and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) are preparing to have a high-level meeting this week with a view to determining exactly how the tax agency came up with a $1.5 billion figure it claims it is now owed.According to reliable sources, the company is also disputing the GRA’s claim that it has in fact breached the Investment Agreement with the GRA and is adamant that the seizure of its logging equipment was unlawful.The company’s executives have indicated that the meeting is expected to field lawyers between the two entities.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoSome of the materials that the GRA seized from BaiShanLin over the weekendThe Revenue Authority over the weekend swooped down on BaiShanLin’s Coomacka Linden operation where it seized a number of logging equipment, but according to the company’s officials, none of its other operations have been targeted by the GRA, including its gold mining, transportation and real estate ventures.BaiShanLin – under controversial circumstances had also acquired a 20-kilometre river gold mining concession, in addition to a five kilometers construction area for a Guyana-China Timber Industry Economic and Trading Cooperation Park and acres of land for real estate development.BK International had also under questionable circumstances sold a 100-acre plot of land to BaiShanLin in Providence, East Bank Demerara, for the construction of the massive real estate project – a project that is currently at a standstill.The logging company reportedly offered US$9 million for the 100-acres plot but still owes a substantial amount.During the GuyExpo 2014 trade fair at the Sophia Exhibition Center, BaiShanLin had announced the gated community called “New Life” with a huge display. Prices for homes were from $50 million and reaching over $100 million.Why destroy business?Meanwhile, former President Bharrat Jagdeo, under whose administration the Chinese company had been brought into Guyana, has broken his silence on the matter and has since called for Government to release the Investment Agreement to the public.Jagdeo is of the view that the GRA was acting on direction, “or a pre-conceived notion that somehow they have to take back all of these lands from this company.”He pointed to the recent commitment on the part of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government to set aside some two million hectares of land for conservation.This he suggested has led to Government now looking to “take back lands from people.” Jagdeo said he is of the view that BaiShanLin must honour its obligations made under the Investment Agreement and that the State has a right to enforce the provisions of that document but, “this goes beyond the agreement.”He used the opportunity to also point to the increased hardships that would obtain as a result of the actions on the part of GRA and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and questions “why do you have to destroy business at a time when the economy is already faltering.”He was speaking to the fact that BaiShanLin had been purchasing logs extracted by local small operators particularly from Ituni and Kwakwani in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).“All of that is gone now,” said Jagdeo as he pointed to BaiShanLin’s request for another two years to complete its wood processing plant.“Why not give them but watch them carefully whilst they are paying their fair share of the taxes,” the former President, now Opposition Leader questioned.Breached agreementThe GRA had earlier this year launched an investigation into the operations of the logging company and had determined that it had in fact breached its Investment Agreement.According to the GRA missive addressed to Managing Director of BaiShanLin, Chu Hongbo, it had found that the company had breached the terms and conditions under which tax exemptions were granted as outlined in the Investment Agreement.According to the Revenue Authority, BaiShanLin failed to undertake the activities of the project specified in the Investment Agreement with regard to the setting up of a modernised wood processing facility in Linden.The tax collection body also found that BaiShanLin had also failed to create and sustain employment for 150 persons over three years.It found too that the company also failed to procure and provide all the investment and other financing required by the undertaking, in the estimated sum of US$150 million over a three-year period from the time of signing of the Investment Agreement.It was subsequently determined that BaiShanLin breached its covenant with Government in its Investment Agreement “for which the penalty is termination of the Agreement”.As such, “the residual customs duty and taxes are now due and payable on machinery, equipment and motor vehicles” in the amount of just over $1.5 billion ($1,584,047,052).last_img read more

Deputy killed in crash

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 The other Antelope Valley sheriff’s deputy killed recently in the line of duty died in August 2003. Lake Los Angeles Deputy Steve Sorensen was shot to death at an isolated desert trailer while investigating a routine trespassing case. Sorensen’s killer died in a fiery shootout with other deputies. Bain, an Agua Dulce resident, was a 15-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the married father of three daughters. Today would have been his 46th birthday. Funeral services are pending. Flags were lowered to half-staff at Lancaster City Hall, at county offices and at the state Capitol. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a message of condolence, as he does for every Californian killed in Iraq. “Deputy Bain and his family made the ultimate sacrifice in order to keep Californians safe,” Schwarzenegger’s message said. Bain had been patrolling Thursday afternoon for speeders and other traffic violators along Avenue K, where sheriff’s officials stepped up patrols last year after 110 crashes and six fatalities in the first part of 2005. LANCASTER – Sheriff’s motorcycle Deputy Pierre Bain took it seriously that so many people died in his city from speeding, running red lights and other bad driving. On Thursday, it happened to him: Bain was riding after a speeding van, siren and emergency lights on, when a Honda SUV turned left in front of him and stopped as its 73-year-old driver saw his oncoming motorcycle, authorities said. Bain swerved, but his motorcycle saddlebag hit the sport utility vehicle’s front bumper and he went down. Bain was thrown into a tree, and died 30 minutes later at a hospital. “We’re devastated.” Lancaster sheriff’s station commander Capt. Carl Deeley said Friday. “This is twice in three years, losing someone.” Bain was Avenue K’s first fatality since the stepped-up patrols began, Deeley said. “It was his crusade.” Deeley said. “He took it personally that so many people in this city die in traffic collisions.” The crash that killed Bain was his second since transferring to Lancaster from the Temple City station less than three years ago. Within a week after he came to Lancaster in June 2003, a vehicle turned left in front of his motorcycle on Avenue I. That time, he was back at work within a few days. Bain was aware of the dangers of motorcycle patrol, Deeley said. All four of Lancaster’s motorcycle deputies have been in crashes at least twice each in the past six years, and none was their fault, Deeley said. “He was a very accomplished dirt bike rider. He was very good,” Deeley said. Bain and two other Lancaster motorcycle deputies on Tuesday had taken time from patrolling to be photographed with three youngsters for an upcoming city newsletter article about bicycle safety. Lancaster public information officer Anne Aldrich was impressed by Bain’s demeanor during the photo shoot. “He was so nice. He was so nice to the kids – what a nice man,” Aldrich said. Bain’s crash will be investigated by the California Highway Patrol because a sheriff’s deputy was involved, officials said. CHP officers said they are asking the public’s help in finding the driver of the blue van that Bain had clocked on a radar gun and was after when he crashed. “He was trying to catch up to it to pull it over,” CHP Lt. Andria Witmer said. Bain is survived by his wife, Diana, and three daughters from a previous marriage: Chantal, 21, Kristina, 18, and Alicia, 16, as well as his mother and father and a brother. Chantal was home visiting her father while on Army leave after serving in Iraq. At the tree that Bain hit at Avenue K and 20th Street East, friends put flowers, a candle and a photograph of Bain riding with two other motorcycle deputies. Lancaster deputies were offered Friday off if they were too upset by Bain’s death, but all came in to work, Deeley said. “We actually had people coming in on their day off. We have people helping the family and answering phones,” Deeley said. Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742 chuck.bostwick@dailynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

24-hour relay to raise funds for research into cancer cure

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAUGUS – Nearly 100 teams will walk a track this weekend at Central Park in a 24-hour relay to raise money for cancer research. The American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life starts at 9 a.m. Saturday with opening ceremonies. Cancer survivors will walk that first lap, a symbol of their individual triumphs. Teams will camp out overnight, but the relay will be continuous – an effort that represents the cancer that never sleeps. At 9 p.m., thousands of supports are expected to join the teams for a candlelight walk circling the sprawling park. The flames in crafted luminaria bags are dedicated to the memories of loved ones who lost the battle, to survivors or as thanks to supporters. Individual walkers bring in donations and join the relay teams. Information is available by calling relay chairwoman Laura Scott at (661) 296-0081 or e-mailing randall.phillips@cancer.org.last_img read more

Sun to return after two days of torrential rains

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Mostly sunny skies with afternoon temperatures in the upper 60s and 70s are predicted through the weekend. Monday’s thunderstorms dumped 2.15 inch of rain on Palmdale, breaking a 42-year-old record for the date: .78 inches set in 1963. Another .50 inch fell by midafternoon Tuesday, bringing rainfall since July 1 to 3.47 inch. Palmdale’s average annual rainfall is 7.9 inches. Monday’s rainfall was the second heaviest on record for October in Palmdale and the seventh heaviest for one day since Palmdale records began in 1938. Palmdale’s record one-day rainfall was 3.42 inches on Dec. 11, 1943. Antelope Valley College resumed classes Tuesday after halting operations Monday night because of heavy rain that flooded streets and lightning-caused power surges that disrupted elevators and computers. Some water seeped into college buildings but damage was very minor, AVC spokesman Steve Standerfer said. The storm also contributed to a number of collisions on Antelope Valley streets and highways. “Anytime it rains, people crash more,” California Highway Patrol Lt. Andria Witmer said. Flooding closed Highway 14’s southbound lanes Monday and again Tuesday morning near Backus Road. Flooding also closed Red Rock-Randsberg Road north of Mojave and Avenue Q east of Palmdale on Tuesday. Rocks and mud came down onto Angeles Crest Highway and other roads in the Angeles National Forest but damage was very minor, a forest spokesman said. On San Francisquito Canyon Road, where work crews are realigning a 1.8-mile section north of Saugus to get it out of a flood-prone area, the rained turned a temporary detour route into mud. The section of road being rebuilt is open only to escorted vehicles during early morning and evening hours. Officials halted the escorts until the mud dried. Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742 chuck.bostwick@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PALMDALE – Two days of thunderstorms that flooded mountain and desert roads are expected to turn today into mostly sunny skies. The southbound Antelope Valley Highway, flooded two consecutive days by storm runoff north of Rosamond, reopened to traffic Tuesday morning. On San Francisquito Canyon Road, where workers are still rebuilding after storm damage last winter, Los Angeles County road officials hoped to reopen today a temporary detour for commuter traffic. “It will depend obviously on the conditions,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Works spokeswoman Melinda Barrett said. The National Weather Service predicted partly cloudy skies this morning in the Antelope Valley and said weather should become mostly sunny this afternoon. last_img read more

PATRICK GILDEA’S PROMISE TO YOU

first_imgPromoted PostThe inside of Patrick Gildea’s new salon.What would you say if we told you that you could get your hair cut and coloured anywhere, there are many places that will offer you the latest style and take care of your needs.But what if we told you that it was about more than just the hair cut? When you choose Patrick Gildea Hairdressing Team you are choosing so much more than just your hair needs, you are choosing a hairdressing experience like no other. You are choosing a team that genuinely cares, listens and promises to go the extra mile to make sure that your whole experience is perfect.What exactly is our promise? Well we promise you warmth, we promise you a high level of professionalism, we promise creativity, we promise to listen and offer advice on all your hair care needs, quite simply we promise to focus on you- we will make sure that you not only look great but feel great too.Of course part of our promise is to provide an extremely high level of hairdressing. We have been providing precision haircuts and gorgeous colour accentuating natural beauty for over 25 years. You can be confident that your look is not mass produced and is tailored to you, your face shape, your life and your personality.This sounds great doesn’t it? And do you know what is even better; the prices are within everyone’s reach as they are surprisingly affordable. Have a look for yourself, you can see the team in action here http://youtu.be/uBKFHw_kElk To keep up to date with hair care tips and trends see www.facebook.com/patrickgildeahairdressing and for a full service listing see www.patrickgildea.iePATRICK GILDEA’S PROMISE TO YOU was last modified: January 22nd, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:donegalhairdresserletterkennyPatrick Gildealast_img read more

Mandela: 20 years of freedom

first_img11 February 2010 Twenty years ago, on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison a free man – and the course of South African history changed forever. MediaClubSouthAfrica looks back on the day, as well as the chain of events leading up to it. “I wish to put it plainly that the government has taken a firm decision to release Mr Mandela unconditionally. I am serious about bringing this matter to finality without delay.” MediaClubSouthAfrica Free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service. With those words, said on 2 February 1990, then-state president FW de Klerk set a remarkable chain of events in motion. An electorate that, to a large extent, was enjoying the right to vote for the first time in their lives, led to a democratic South Africa with one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. De Klerk, who had assumed the presidency just four months earlier, wasted no time in bringing about long-overdue change. He was making his inaugural State of the Nation address at the 1990 opening of Parliament in Cape Town, speaking before the House and to a television audience. South Africa will mark the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from more than 27 years of imprisonment at the opening of Parliament on 11 February. The 2010 event will also be significant as it will be the first time the State of the Nation address is delivered in the evening. By arranging the speech for a more convenient television time, rather than the traditional morning delivery, the government is encouraging more citizens to tune in.Understanding through dialogue Addressing the nation in 1990, De Klerk went on to say that the agenda for negotiation was now open. He invited “sensible” leaders to come forward and begin talking, so that an understanding may be reached through dialogue. De Klerk’s government had a number of firm goals in mind, among them a new democratic constitution; protection of minorities and the rights of the individual; an independent, unbiased judiciary; religious freedom; better housing, education, social and health services for all; and a strong economy. This could only be achieved with the abolition of apartheid laws and restrictions, a fact of which De Klerk was very well aware. Not only did the president decide to release Mandela, he implemented other changes on a scale that nobody had anticipated. Several political parties were unbanned. These were the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan Africanist Congress, and the South African Communist Party. He also lifted restrictions on 33 other opposition groups. Prisoners who were in jail merely for belonging to one of the banned organisations were pardoned immediately. De Klerk also lifted certain media, education and security restrictions, paving the way for the eventual lifting of the latest state of emergency, by then in place since 1985. The death penalty was suspended and the controversial and deplorable Land Act was repealed. The remaining apartheid laws were dismantled over the next three years, and South Africa’s first democratic election took place in 1994. It was no surprise that Mandela stepped into the role of leader of the nation.Peace and reconciliation The country had endured tension and violent conflict for decades, said De Klerk, and it was time to break out of that cycle and strive for peace and reconciliation. The silent majority yearned for it, he said, and the youth deserved it. De Klerk was emphatic in urging South Africans to come to the negotiation table. “On the basis of numerous previous statements there is no longer any reasonable excuse for the continuation of violence. The time for talking has arrived and whoever still makes excuses does not really wish to talk.” His decisive actions, which would eventually cut short his own political career as he made way for a new party to take over the government, earned him the praise of the nation, and the world. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, speaking to the press at the time, exclaimed: “What he said has certainly taken my breath away … give him credit, man.” The BBC reported then-US president George Bush as saying that he welcomed the decision to dismantle apartheid, although more had to be done before the US would lift its economic sanctions. And Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister of Britain, wrote a congratulatory letter to De Klerk. Others, such as current UN secretary-general Perez de Cuellar and presidents Mario Soares of Portugal, Francois Mitterand of France, and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, also expressed their joy and approval. Some were more cautious. The late ANC president Oliver Tambo, speaking from Stockholm where he was receiving treatment for a stroke, described De Klerk’s steps as progressive, but pointed out that two of the ANC’s main demands were not fully realised – the release of all political prisoners, and the complete lifting of the state of emergency.Long-awaited release Nelson Mandela was released on 11 February 1990 from the low-security Victor Verster prison, now known as the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, in the Dwars River valley near Paarl, Western Cape. Mandela had been relocated from Robben Island to the maximum-security Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town’s southern suburbs in 1984, and a few years later he was moved to a private house within the prison walls of Victor Verster. “When he built a home in Qunu after his release,” said Mandela’s daughter Zindzi, “he insisted that it be a duplicate of his house in Victor Verster, where he felt comfortable. My father often said that he missed his time in prison because it allowed him time to reflect.” Zindzi Mandela received news of her father’s imminent release while she was at the funeral of her partner Clayton Sithole, who died while in detention at the former John Vorster police station, Johannesburg, in January 1990, just 12 days before Mandela walked free. She described the day of her father’s release as emotional, painful and chaotic. “I was terrified. There were so many people, which I never expected. As much as I wanted him to come home as a father, I knew he would come back as a leader first. And I was in mourning for the father of my child.” Straight after his release Mandela addressed thousands of supporters from the balcony of the Cape Town city hall. He spent his first night of freedom at Bishopscourt, the official residence of the Archbishop of Cape Town, who at that time was Desmond Tutu. Mandela flew to Johannesburg the next day, where he attended a rally at Soweto’s FNB stadium, now the impressive Soccer City and venue for the opening match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. From there he went to his house in Vilakazi Street, Soweto, where he spent his first night at home in almost three decades. In 1993 De Klerk and Mandela jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in abolishing the apartheid policies that had held South Africa back for so long. The Nobel Committee awarded this prestigious honour “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”. The laureates also jointly received the 1991 Unesco Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize. The announcement of the latter prize, made by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, read: “For their contribution to international peace, to encourage them to continue in their effort and as a tribute to what they have done to educate their people towards an understanding and towards an overcoming of prejudice that many would not have thought possible a few short years ago.”Bringing the struggle to life In February 2009 the National Heritage Council announced the first site in the new National Liberation Heritage Route (LHR) – the house at Victor Verster prison where Mandela spent the last few years of his incarceration. Making the announcement, CEO of the National Heritage Council Sonwabile Mancotywa said that the prison had transformed from a place of pain to one that honoured the final stretch in the struggle for freedom. “It is a place of history that has contributed to South Africa’s cultural revival,” said Mancotywa. Mandela’s former wife Winnie Madikizela, also in attendance, expressed her pleasure that the LHR was going all out to recognise the country’s struggle heroes: “We hope that it can include the history of all those who gave up their lives for freedom,” she said, “and tell the story of the Tambos and the Sisulus and others as much as the Mandela story has been told.” The South African LHR, a network of historically valuable sites that reflects key aspects of the country’s struggle for freedom, is modelled on the Australian convict sites. In July 2007 it was submitted to Unesco for nomination as a world heritage site, and is currently on the tentative list. The route consists of a host of stops that cover critical aspects of the liberation struggle, such as the women’s movement, youth and student movements, massacres and assassinations, and sites of historical significance. A few examples are Constitution Hill, once a notorious prison and now seat of South Africa’s Constitutional Court; Sharpeville, site of the massacre in 1960 where 69 protesters died; the Isandlwana battlefield, where Zulus and British colonial troops faced off in 1879; and Olive Schreiner House in De Aar, Northern Cape, once the home of the renowned author of The Story of an African Farm and opponent of women’s oppression. The Mandela section of the route includes his birthplace Mvezo in Mthatha, Eastern Cape province; Qunu in Mthatha where he grew up; the Clarkebury Institution which schooled him; the house in Alexandra, Johannesburg, where he lived for three years in the early 1940s; Fort Hare University; the site in Howick where he was captured by police in 1962; Liliesleaf Farm; Robben Island; Victor Verster prison; and the Mandela family home in Vilakazi Street, where Winnie lived with their children while he was in prison. It is hoped that other countries in the Southern African Development Community will make similar submissions.First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.last_img read more

A paradise for rescued birds

first_imgThis red masked and Patagonian conure are best friends. A native of Australia, the delicately coloured Rosie, a galah cockatoo, has settled into life under the Birds of Eden dome. Although all the birds have been dehumanised, many of them are still fearless when it comes to human interaction. The mesh dome covers a surface area of over two hectares and is 55m off the ground at its highest point. Calik the spectacled langur and his lady friend, a Hanuman langur, are two of the tiny primates that have found sanctuary at Birds of Eden.(Images: Birds of Eden)MEDIA CONTACTS • Lee DekkerManager, Birds of Eden+27 44 534 8906 or +27 79 646 7474Janine ErasmusThe Birds of Eden avian sanctuary, located 16km east of Plettenberg Bay on the picturesque Garden Route in the Western Cape, is the biggest single-dome free flight aviary in the world. It’s a home and a haven for exotic birds and miniature monkeys who would otherwise struggle to survive in the wild.Situated in Eden Municipality – hence the name – the sanctuary opened in December 2005 and is a popular attraction on the Garden Route.However, it also offers an important service in that it accepts previously caged birds and tiny monkeys whose owners want to give them a better life.The creatures live under a wire mesh dome which covers over 2.3 hectares of lush indigenous forest, with a volume of over 375 000 kilolitres.To more easily visualise the dome’s surface area, imagine an international rugby field, which has a total playing area of roughly one hectare including the area behind the dead ball line. Then imagine two and a half rugby fields next to each other. In volume terms, a kilolitre contains 1 000 litres.At its maximum height the dome soars 55m above the ground, giving the birds plenty of room to fly. It’s supported by a network of cables running between 28 masts which vary in height between 2m and 34m. According to Birds of Eden, the mesh and supporting structures weigh about 80 tons.The dome encloses a dam for waterfowl and a gorge with a waterfall. The forest vegetation is Afromontane, and includes tree species such as Ironwood olive (Olea capensis), the Outeniqua yellowwood (Podocarpus falcatus), the black (Ocotea bullata) and white (Celtis african) stinkwood, and the Cape beech (Rapanea melanophloeos).Bird lovers may opt to take the official guidebook and wander through the dome on their own, over some 1.2km of walkways, or as part of a guided tour. The majority of walkways are elevated, so visitors can get close to birds perching in trees.Birds of Eden is affiliated with the next-door Monkeyland primate sanctuary, and both are run under the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance, previously known as the Touch a Monkey’s Heart Foundation.Monkeyland operates on much the same principles with its four-legged charges, although there is no covered dome but rather a 6.5m-high electrified fence surrounding the 12ha of primate paradise.Some monkey species, such as tamarins and marmosets, are too small to be released into the larger sanctuary, and these are the ones who’ve found a home next door with the birds under the dome.A second chanceAmong Birds of Eden’s 204 different species are waterfowl, louries, toucans, macaws and parrots, lorikeets and parakeets, cranes, flamingos, starlings and robins – but no raptors.There are over 3 500 individual birds in the dome, which is also home to leopard tortoise, several species of snake, little duikers, and other creatures.“We take previously caged birds, mostly exotics,” says Lee Dekker, manager of the sanctuary. “African birds can in many cases be released, but birds that originate from further afield simply won’t survive in the wild.”Birds are also taken in after SPCA confiscations, or may come from zoos or experimental facilities.Using a tried and tested technique called the Eden Syndrome, staff prepare birds for their new life.In the pre-release stage, which can take many months, the birds are dehumanised, put onto the right diet for their species, and allowed to socialise with others in a large aviary. Here they can also build up their flight muscles, especially if they’ve had to sit on a perch in a cage for a long time.“When we receive a bird we do a health test so that we know what we have to do to get it flying fit,” says Dekker. “The birds are put onto a natural diet and are closely monitored after their release.”Most birds are easily able to recognise their own kind but, says Dekker, some have made friendships across the species divide.Their natural instincts are also unimpaired – when they get released into the main dome, it doesn’t take them long to find the spot that’s exactly suited for them.Colourful charactersOver the years, many colourful characters have found their way into the hearts of staff and visitors.One of these is 38-year-old Meisiekind, a Catalina macaw, who has lived in cages for most of her life. Meisie was frustrated with her circumstances and when her owners had a baby, the bird became angry that she wasn’t getting all the attention, which added to her temper problem. Finally, she bit her rival’s finger off and while surgeons were able to reattach the child’s finger, the macaw had to go. Birds of Eden was the answer.Rosie the galah cockatoo is another celebrity bird. Australian in origin, the galah is one of the most common and widespread of Australian birds. True to her name, Rosie is pink and grey in colour and is a confident and friendly bird, often greeting visitors by asking, “Hello, what’s the time?” It took 18 months to get Rosie ready for release into the dome, but she has settled in and is now familiar with all parts of her new home.Before any of these creatures can be released into the dome or the larger enclosure, they have to be able to find food and shelter on their own and be able to fly or move around with confidence. Feeding platforms throughout the forest offer a selection of seeds, fruit, vegetables and nuts, and the birds and monkeys have to learn firstly that the platforms exist and secondly, how to find them.But thanks to the Eden Syndromw, says Dekker, Birds of Eden has never had a failure.last_img read more

Milestone for South African satellite technology

first_imgThe South African satellite industry is taking a giant leap as a global aerospace player, with the inclusion of two locally developed nanosatellites on the Atlas V rocket, launched on 18 April 2017.The International Space Station in orbit over earth, where, during April 2017, a payload of almost 40 new research and telecommunications nanosatellites will be delivered. Included are two South African projects, the nSight1 and ZA-Aerosat. (Image: Wikipedia)CD AndersonThe Atlas V launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the US, on 18 April 2017. It included a payload of 28 nanosatellites from 23 countries destined for the International Space Station (ISS).Included among the 28 are two South African developed nanosatellites: nSight1, designed and manufactured by Cape Town group SCS Space, a member of the SCS Aerospace Group, and ZA-Aerosat, designed and manufactured by CubeSpace of Stellenbosch University. The satellites will be deployed into low-earth orbit over a period of 30 to 60 days as the ISS orbits Earth.The Atlas V launch is part of the QB50 project funded by the European Union and managed by the von Karman Institute. Together with the United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint initiative of private aerospace companies around the world and the American government’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), nanosatellites launched will be used for telecommunications as well as research and data-gathering for atmospheric study.Other countries with nanosatellites on board include China, South Korea, Spain and Sweden.Weighing a little under 2kg, the nSight1 nanosatellite is a South African project that will measure and process data in the Earth’s outer atmosphere. The system, alongside another South Africa nanosatellite, ZA-Aerosat, was launched on the Atlas V rocket on 18 April 2017. (Image: SCS Aerospace Group)Nanosatellites are generally smaller than conventional satellites, thanks to advancements in nanotechnology design. The smaller satellites, which usually are discarded when their work is completed, burn up more completely when re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving less debris (“space junk”) in Earth’s orbit.Both nSight1 and ZA-Aerosat are no bigger than shoeboxes, yet contain some of the world’s most advanced technology.The two South African satellites will be used to record factors in the Earth’s lower thermosphere, between 200km and 380km altitude.Data collected from this experiment over the next 18 months will aid current atmospheric models, which is vital for determining safe re-entry trajectories for spacecraft. The same data can also be used for environmental study.The South African nanosatellite, ZA-Aerosat, was launched alongside 38 other international satellites destined for the International Space Station, on the Atlas V rocket on 18 April 2017. (Image: CubeSpace)University of Stellenbosch and CubeSpace spokesperson Mike-Alec Kearney told EWN News that ZA-Aerosat would be used in conjunction with other satellites already in orbit. “[Sensors] at the front of the satellite… measure atomic oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere and build a model of the Earth’s atmosphere.”The nSight1 project is a joint investment by the Cape Town engineering consultancy, SCS Aerospace Group, and Pretoria software designers Pinkmatter Solutions. Working with engineers from the Space Advisory Company, the South African team designed, integrated and tested the satellite, alongside contributions from scientists at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.“We are proud to be a part of an international space project of this magnitude,” SCS Space CEO Hendrik Burger told Engineering News South Africa before the launch. “[The project] affords us the opportunity to test the next generation space camera technology which was uniquely developed by SCS Space and partners within industry development initiatives of the South African Department of Trade and Industry.”Once launched in orbit, the next stage of the nSight1’s contribution to the overall project will include mission control and data-processing operations, which Burger said “will be done through our Houwteq Ground Station near Grabouw in the Western Cape”.For more information on the technology behind the two South African nanosatellites, visit the Cubase and SCS Aerospace Group websites.Source: AFKInsider, EWN, Engineering News South AfricaWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Tweet on VBA talks with Cong. goes viral

first_imgWhen a tweet from the handle of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) leader Prakash Ambedkar warning the Congress that any possible discussion in future will be from equal level went viral, Mr. Ambedkar denied tweeting any such message.‘No political slavery’“If Congress wants to hold discussion with the VBA in future, then it has to be on equal level. The system of political slavery under the Congress has been dismantled,” the tweet said.Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Ambedkar denied tweeting any such message. “I don’t want to speak on how and who put this message. But I did not and we as VBA have not decided anything about holding talks with the Congress,” he said.Mr. Ambedkar said that even though he has not tweeted the above message, he is in agreement with the sentiment of the message. “We are going to hold a meeting of VBA next week, where we will be discussing our future course of action and how to deal with the Congress. Only then we can tell you about any possible talks with them,” he said.The VBA leader also said that the party will be contesting the Assembly seats in alliance with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). “The Lok Sabha results have shown an alternative to the Muslims of Maharashtra — us. And they have realised that this alternative can win the election, unlike last time,” he said. The VBA damaged the prospects of the Congress-NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) alliance in around nine seats in the State. It secured around a lakh votes on a dozen Lok Sabha seats, which include Gadchiroli-Chimur, Hatkanangle, Buldhana, Akola, Nanded, Hingoli, Chandrapur, Parbhani, Sangli, Nashik, Latur and Solapur.AIMIM’s Imitiaz Jaleel, a journalist-turned-MLA, won from Aurangabad, defeating Sena’s four-time MP Chandrakant Khaire. Mr. Ambedkar himself had contested from Akola and Solapur but lost from both constituencies.last_img read more