GOL: A Shameful, Fraudulent Misuse of Power, WFP in an Unholy Alliance

first_imgThe World Food Program (WFP), in flagrant (barefaced, unashamed) disregard for struggling Liberian businesses, recently awarded to a Guinean trucking firm a multimillion dollar contract for transport services to the WFP’s Ebola response to Liberia.How is that possible?  Does WFP or anyone else think that the Guinean government and people, more particularly Guinean businesspeople, would ever allow such a thing to happen in Guinea?  Definitely not!   The Guineans most certainly know better.  Though they are predominantly Muslim, they know fully well the Christian dictum that “Charity begins at home.”The big trouble is, NOT IN LIBERIA!Liberia is a friendly country, most probably the most friendly in Africa.  For which other African country so openly and so wholeheartedly welcomes foreigners and are prepared to give them every opportunity to do business and make tons of money here, while Liberians continue to live in abject poverty?This newspaper has always advocated, argued for, pleaded with the Liberian government, to do everything in its power, as a deliberate policy, to encourage and foster the development of a middle class.   Daily Observer publisher  Kenneth Y. Best, as a young Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) in 1972, started urging the Liberian leaders to begin the process of developing a Liberian merchant class.  His point was that it was the quickest way to lift our people out of poverty, for that is where the money is—in business and commerce.  If Liberians controlled their own commerce, they would be in the driver’s seat of their economy.When Kenneth made that 1972 call during a speech at his alma mater, Booker Washington Institute (BWI), no less a person than the eminent former Liberian Secretary of State J. Rudolph Grimes told him, “You know, you are right.”Alas! The government has paid absolutely NO attention to this advice.  This advice has over the years been consistently rejected by successive Liberian administrations, including the current one.  The Tubman government started by enunciating (pronouncing) the Open Door Policy.  This was initially hailed as a great thing because it started attracting foreign investments to the country,   But from the very start, it became a totally foreign thing, the first being Lansdell K. Christe’s Liberia Mining Company (LMC) that mined iron ore from Bomi Hills (now Tubmanburg).  But 20 years before LMC came Harvey S. Firestone, Jr’s Firestone Rubber Plantations Company (FRPC).  That was Liberia’s first major foreign investment.  Like Firestone, LMC had no local investment participation. Then came LAMCO in the late 1950s, to mine the iron ore in Mount Nimba, Nimba County; and later Bong Mining Company.  All of these were overwhelmingly foreign-owned.The government did nothing to encourage Liberians to undertake ancillary (subsidiary, secondary) businesses, such as food supply,  transportation and other logistical services. Even as late as the 2000s, especially with the coming of the current government, major concession agreements have been signed, particularly in the iron ore, oil palm and now the petroleum sectors, with no Liberian participation.  The National Oil Company (NOCAL) has auctioned off most of the oil blocks, again with little or no Liberian participation, except a very few that have not been made public.  Who knows whether these are not reserved for people close to the powers that be?  If not, why are these Liberian owners so secretive?  Is that the few remain natural resources should be shared?There is another alarming, deeply distressing reality at play:  The government owes the media, most of them tiny business enterprises, well over half a million United States dollars, but has, over several years, consistently REFUSED to pay them.  Now the government is DEMANDING that the media houses accept far less than the amount due them!  How so fraudulent and unfair, how so shamefully a misuse of power!Worse yet, several Christmases have passed, and this one, too,  is about to pass, and GOL has not aroused its conscience — if it has one — to pay the media, so that our wives and children can say “Papa na come home.”So who can blame the WFP for ditching Liberian truckers in favor of Guinean truckers?    WFP has learned well the lesson the Liberian government has taught them— “to hell with Liberian businesses.  You can come to Liberia and do as you please.”Is this government then serious about poverty reduction, which it has preached, since coming to power?Ellen’s government has only two more years in power.  As eternal optimists, we don’t think it is too late for her to make a difference.  A good place to start is to PAY THE MEDIA WHAT YOU OWE THEM AND DEMAND THAT THE WFP AGREEMENT BE REVERSED.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Guardiola critical of much-changed City

first_img0Shares0000Win some, lose some: Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola on Wednesday © AFP / Oli SCARFFMANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Mar 8 – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola criticised his heavily rotated side for “forgetting to attack” despite reaching the Champions League quarter-finals 5-2 on aggregate over Basel on Wednesday.City suffered a first home defeat in 15 months as the Swiss champions came from behind to win 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium and salvage some pride from their last-16 tie after being thrashed 4-0 on home turf in the first leg three weeks ago. “From tomorrow we will be happy to be in the quarter-finals for the second time in this club’s history. We are new in that position, so we are so happy for that,” said Guardiola.“Even the first half was quite good, in the second half we forgot to attack, we forgot to play.“Just to pass to pass for itself is nothing, so the second half was really, really poor.”Guardiola could afford the luxury of making six changes from Sunday’s dominant 1-0 win over Chelsea, but still saw his side extend their aggregate advantage early on when Gabriel Jesus tapped home after just eight minutes.However, Mohamed Elyounoussi exposed some slack City defending to smash in an equaliser for the visitors nine minutes later before Michael Lang rocketed home a spectacular winner 19 minutes from time.“It’s special for us to beat this team and we go out of the Champions League with a decent performance in a very difficult situation,” said Basel coach Raphael Wicky.City could have the Premier League mathematically wrapped up by the time they are next in Champions League action in early April.– City not yet ready? –Despite losing for just the fourth time all season, the runaway Premier League leaders still cruised through 5-2 on aggregate after doing the hard work in Switzerland three weeks ago.And on this evidence they will need the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva to be well-rested and in-form if they are to deliver the dream of their Abu Dhabi owners by winning the European Cup for a first time as a number of youngsters and fringe players failed to impress.“I understand after we see the second half the people that say the team is not ready to fight for everything,” added Guardiola.However, the Catalan coach hopes a three-week break following Monday’s trip to Stoke will leave his side refreshed for the last eight.“We are in the quarter-finals, that is the good news, and after we will see how we will arrive in the quarter-finals.“We have one more game on Monday and then we have three weeks off. In 180 minutes it is 5-2, so we are so happy to be in the next stage.”Leroy Sane was one of few regular starters retained in Guardiola’s starting XI and continued his supreme form by creating the opener.Jesus hadn’t started since suffering knee ligament damage on New Year’s Eve, but had the simplest of tasks to get back among the goals when Bernardo Silva latched onto Sane’s pass to produce a inch-perfect low cross for the Brazilian.City should have gone even further in front as Silva’s shot from a dangerous Sane cut-back was blocked before Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik made a fine block to deny Ilkay Gundogan his third goal of the tie.However, a minute later Basel were level as Blas Riveros burst down the left and his deflected cross was dispatched powerfully past Claudio Bravo by Elyounoussi.Guardiola grew visibly frustrated on the touchline as his side also started the second period slowly.And they were punished when Elyounoussi’s low cross was blasted past Bravo at his near post from a narrow angle by Lang.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Donegal celebrates National Breastfeeding Week

first_imgNational Breastfeeding Week runs from Saturday, October 01 to Friday, October 07 2016. National Breastfeeding Week is traditionally held on the start of the 10th month, marking the end of 9th months of pregnancy and the start of the breastfeeding journey!This is the third year of the theme “Every Breastfeed Makes a Difference”. National Breastfeeding Week provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of breastfeeding for the health of children and mothers, to provide information on breastfeeding and to promote the supports available throughout the country.To celebrate National Breastfeeding Week, Letterkenny University Hospital will host a coffee morning on 05 October from 11am – 12.30pm and Cuidiú will hold a public lecture on breastfeeding on 07 October from 7.30pm – 9pm, both events will be held in the medical academy, Letterkenny University Hospital and all are welcome to attend. On Thursday 06 October from 2.30pm – 5pm Geraldine Hanley, Antenatal Education Co-ordinator, CMM2, and Mary Lynch, CMM2 will host an information stand outside the maternity unit and will be available to offer support and answer all your questions.Five people from Donegal Breasteeding Forum will visit 5 different Community breastfeeding support groups during National breastfeeding week. The aim is to promote LUH working in partnership with HSE & Voluntary Breastfeeding support groups and promote awareness that local supports are available.Geraldine Hanley, Antenatal Education Co-ordinator, Maternity Unit, Letterkenny University Hospital says, “New and expectant mothers can learn much about breastfeeding by observing and sharing stories.By chatting with friends and relatives, you can find out what worked for them, as well as what did not. Having a baby is a new job and, like all new jobs, it takes time to learn these new skills. It is vital to line up help for the first several weeks. Geraldine concludes; “Breastfeeding is important for the health of children and mothers, with every breastfeed making a difference and every breastfeed brings a mum closer to her breastfeeding goals. Many Irish mothers do not reach their breastfeeding goals and stop breastfeeding sooner than planned. Support can help mums to breastfeed for longer. There are over 200 support groups throughout the county and contact details are available on www.breastfeeding.ie”.Donegal celebrates National Breastfeeding Week was last modified: October 1st, 2016 by Elaine McCalligShare 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:coffee morningHSEInformationLetterkenny University Hospitalnational breastfeeding weekSaoltasupportlast_img read more

RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION PRAISES ELECTION CANDIDATES FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO IMPROVE ESTATE

first_imgThe Tara Court residents association have praised Fianna Fáil election candidates John Watson and Ciaran Brogan, for the contributions they’ve made in making improvements to the estate. Patrick McGinley, secretary of the Tara Courts residents association, said the estate badly needed a tidy-up, and praised both men for the lending their help to the project.McGinley told Donegal Daily, ” I would like to thank John Watson for donating a sprayer and weed killer, to clean up the footpaths in the estate. “I’d also like to thank Ciaran Brogan for supplying a few loads of top soil for our green areas and play areas.Ciaran Brogan“We needed to improve the estate, as it was in a disheveled state, and we’re very grateful to both John and Ciaran for their support.“In these times of austerity, it’s not easy to make alterations to an estate, so these type of contributions are vital, and on behalf of the residents committee, I want to sincerely thank both men.RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION PRAISES ELECTION CANDIDATES FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO IMPROVE ESTATE was last modified: May 22nd, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Ciaran BroganJOhn WatsonnewsPatrick McGinleyPoliticsResidents AssociationTara Courtlast_img read more

Growth in IDA jobs in Donegal since 2000 is half the national average

first_imgThe growth in IDA supported jobs in Donegal since 2000 is less than half the national average.The information follows figures uncovered by Donegal Sinn Féin Senator, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.Senator Mac Lochlainn has also revealed that the IDA support less companies in the county today (12) than they did in 2000 (14). Two of those companies, Pramerica and Optum (United Health Group) employ two-thirds of the total IDA supported jobs in Donegal (2,200 out of 3,389).Senator Mac Lochlainn said “In July 1999, the report from the Donegal Employment Initiative Task Force targeted 4,750 new jobs for Donegal in Foreign Direct Investment and Internationally Traded Services over the following seven years. The Task Force, led by the then County Manager, Michael McLoone had been established by the Government following the loss of over 1,000 jobs in Donegal’s textile industry at the time.“This report was launched just over a year after the Good Friday Agreement that heralded a new era of peace on the island of Ireland. So the Task Force’s job targets for Donegal reflected a time of hope and post- conflict ambition.”The Inishowen politician recently submitted a range of parliamentary questions to the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys to fully examine the rate of progress since then. He said the findings are stark.He added “It is a story of government failure. It is a story of lost prosperity for the people of Donegal”.In fact, the figures reveal that the level of growth in IDA supported jobs here in Donegal since 2000 is less than half the national average.Senator Mac Lochlainn added “At national level, IDA supported jobs have grown from 140,000 in 2000 to over 210,000 today (50% growth). The growth in IDA supported jobs in Donegal over that period is just 24% from 2,739 jobs in 2000 to 3,389 today.“So rather than the 4,750 jobs called for by the Task Force so that we could catch up with the national average of jobs, we actually got 650 additional jobs in the last 17 years. “I am also revealing that the IDA support less companies today in Donegal (12) than they did in 2000 (14). Two of those companies, Pramerica and Optum (United Health Group) employ two thirds of the total IDA supported jobs in Donegal (2200 out of 3,389)”.He concluded “The success of Optum and particularly Pramerica with over 1500 jobs created in Donegal, clearly demonstrate the true potential of our county. The progression of the new “North West City Region” under the leadership of Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council is truly exciting. The team at LYIT with its adjoining CoLab and Science and Technology Park are also leading the way to a brighter future.“What has been glaringly missing is delivery from Governments led by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil down the years. The days of the broken promises have to end. The people of Donegal deserve prosperity and fairness like everywhere else.”He added that on the back of these revelations, he will be demanding the fast-tracking of all funding commitments made to the people of Donegal and the North West under the Project 2040- The National Planning Framework. Investment in roads, bridges, airports, water infrastructure, harbours, and broadband all need to be moved forward. Growth in IDA jobs in Donegal since 2000 is half the national average was last modified: March 29th, 2018 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:donegalIDAjobslast_img read more

Penza: Humboldt State softball has all the parts for another national title run

first_imgArcata >> Just how much depth does the Humboldt State softball team have?The Jacks can graduate the California Collegiate Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year (Katie Obbema), the entire left side of their infield that started a combined six seasons (Julie Pena and Cyndi Chavez), an all-conference catcher (Darian Harris) and still be ranked as one of the best teams in the nation entering the 2017 season.Of course, as head coach Shelli Sarchett says, HSU’s ranking in early-February doesn’t …last_img read more

Land ‘expropriation’ in context

first_img5 May 2006Alexandra Fuller’s books on her youth in Zambia and what was then Rhodesia – Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat – have deservedly made her a minor literary sensation. If she submits an article to a major US or British newspaper, she is likely to have it accepted, and it is likely to have an impact.In one such piece, published in the Los Angeles Times last October, she argued that President Thabo Mbeki “looks set to sail the same course as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe” in pursuing a policy of “uncompensated expropriation of land held by whites for black resettlement”.Because of stereotypes about Africa, this kind of statement, profoundly inaccurate though it is, finds ready credence in the US.I don’t know where Fuller got her facts from, but it is a fair bet she follows events in her old stamping ground via the internet from her new one, Wyoming.To be fair, given the sometimes sloppy way in which South African land reform has been reported in the media, it is easy to see how she could get things wrong. Not that the media is exclusively to blame. The language that officials use can also lead to misunderstanding.It is important that the South African government’s land restitution and redistribution policies are properly understood. The perception that South Africa is headed the same way as Zimbabwe has serious consequences. It raises the cost of capital. It deters investment. It constrains the government’s ability to promote growth and reduce poverty.International precedentsAt the root of much of the misunderstanding is the phrase “willing seller-willing buyer” and what is seen as its opposite, “expropriation”.When the government says that it means to start favouring the latter over the former, this is reported in ways that make it sound like a draconian shift from reason and reconciliation to the coercive and uncompensated dismemberment of property rights. The truth is otherwise.Respectable, prosperous democracies the world over reserve the right to take private property for public use on a compensated basis when the owner proves unwilling to sell or demands a price the government is unwilling to pay.In Britain, this is called compulsory purchase. In the US, where property rights are held in popular mythology to be especially sacrosanct, the government is said to exercise the power of eminent domain.The South African Constitution grants the government a precisely equivalent power and imposes on it limitations scarcely less binding than the fifth amendment to the US constitution, the relevant clause of which states: “. nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”What constitutes a legitimate “public use” is a matter of ongoing debate in the US. Some contend that local authorities have been abusing eminent domain by using it to condemn low-income neighbourhoods so that they can be sold to private developers.The US Supreme Court on ‘public use’The authorities have justified their actions on the grounds that they are improving public welfare by bringing in new wealth and jobs and growing the tax base to improve services. A narrow majority of the Supreme Court has sided with this view.On one “public use”, the Supreme Court has been unanimous. In 1984, in an opinion penned by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, an appointee of the very pro-property President Ronald Reagan, the court declared that eminent domain was an entirely legitimate means to deal with “the perceived social and economic evils of a land oligopoly”.In an answer to a parliamentary question on land reform last October, President Mbeki cited the O’Connor opinion and urged members to study it.The case, Hawaii Housing Authority vs. Midkiff, concerned an attempt by the state legislature in Hawaii to undo the effects of a feudal land tenure system which had resulted in just 72 private landowners owning virtually all non-public land, or nearly half the state.On Oahu, the most populous of the Hawaii’s islands, 22 landowners held 72% of all property titles. This, said the legislature, was skewing the local property market, inflating land prices and “injuring the public tranquility and welfare”.The remedy the lawmakers adopted required landowners to sell land to the state which would then transfer it on a subsidised basis to former tenants. If a sales price could not be negotiated, owners had to submit to binding arbitration.They filed suit, claiming breach of the fifth amendment. When the case reached the Supreme Court, they were resoundingly defeated.South Africa and eminent domainIn South Africa today the government is moving to use its power of eminent domain in much the same way, for a “public use” little different from the one explicitly approved by the highest US court.The democratic will of Hawaiians, expressed through their elected legislature, was for sweeping land redistribution. When this could be achieved on a willing seller-willing buyer basis, their representatives exercised eminent domain. So it is in South Africa.The Hawaiian landowners were compensated, of course, as ours will be. Was their compensation just? No doubt they received less than they would have wished. But that is automatically going to be the case whenever eminent domain is exercised. Eminent domain is what respectable, prosperous democracies do when a “willing seller-willing buyer” agreement cannot be reached.Does anyone seriously think that the US is headed down the same path as Zimbabwe?If not, as South Africa’s US ambassador, Barbara Masekela, asked in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, under what set of assumptions should South Africa be judged any differently?Simon Barber is the United States representative of the International Marketing Council of South Africalast_img read more

Africa is the place to see stars

first_imgThe Milky Way blazes overhead in the dark Namibian night.(Image: Tivoli) The NamibRand Nature Reserve also offers spectacular natural landscapes.(Image: NamibRand)This 13 min video contains about 250 hours of actual exposures, gathered at Tivoli Farm, Namibia, during 10 perfectly cloudless nights.(Video: Lorenzo Comolli Astronomy)Visit MediaClubSouthAfrica.com on YouTube.MEDIA CONTACTS • Scott KardelInternational Dark-Sky Association+1 520.293.3198• Nils OdendaalCEO, NamibRand Reserve+264 61 224 882Janine ErasmusSouthern African astronomy buffs have another reason to celebrate – hot on the heels of the awarding of the greater part of the Square Kilometre Array to the region, comes the news that the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia has been proclaimed as the continent’s first international dark-sky reserve (IDSR), meaning that it’s one of the best places on earth to star-gaze.The proclamation falls under the dark-sky movement, an initiative of the Arizona-based non-profit International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) which was the first organisation, and is currently the largest, to embrace this concept.Located in southwestern Namibia, the privately owned NamibRand covers an area of just over 170 000 ha.It joins a handful of other areas around the world – and only three other reserves, in New Zealand, Canada and the UK – recognised by the IDA as the best places on earth to see the splendour of the universe at night, just as it was before humans came along.The dark-sky movement seeks to limit the intrusion of artificial light into the experience of observing the night skies. The adverse effect of this intrusion is known as light pollution, and it happens when artificial light is not properly shielded, causing sky glow, glare or light trespass. This limits the ability to see details of the night sky whether unaided or through a lens.Light on the ground need not be unfriendly to dark skies, if properly set up. But poorly shielded artificial light, according to the IDA, also affects the ecology of an area and impacts on nocturnal animals, predatory behaviour, migration patterns and the mating and communication habits of creatures.Gold tier status for dark-sky excellenceWhile not the first IDSR in the world, the NamibRand is the first to achieve gold tier status. For stargazers this is good news, because it means that the reserve is unparalleled in terms of night-time viewing as any artificial lights that are present make little or no impact on the dark sky. The nearest town lies over 100km away, and the closest major city is Windhoek, some 400km distant.For ecologists, gold status is a sure indication that the NamibRand staff has made every effort to keep the impact of artificial light on the reserve’s fauna to a minimum.“We did a detailed audit of all external light fixtures on the reserve and applied corrective measures, including retrofitting, replacing fixtures or using lower wattage bulbs,” said the reserve’s CEO Nils Odendaal, “so that these would comply with our lighting guidelines as stipulated in our dark-sky reserve management plan.”According to the reserve’s dark-sky lighting guidelines, exterior lighting is kept to a minimum and where necessary, is not only fully shielded, but emits an amber or red light which is kinder to the eyes. Lights are also controlled by motion detectors or timers, where possible, to ensure they’re on for as short a time as possible.Vehicles are encouraged to use headlights (on dim) only when the light of the moon is insufficient, otherwise they use parking lights. It’s perfectly safe to drive using these less powerful lights at the slower speeds used on the reserve. Headlights on bright are only allowed on the public road C27, and vehicle lights may not be directed at buildings or tourist accommodation.The reserve will continue with its responsibility of raising awareness of the importance of preserving the night skies.“NamibRand serves on several local and national committees where we can share information with other conservation organisations and stakeholders,” said Odendaal. ”An example of this is the recently launched Nam-place project, which aims to unite landowners and custodians across large landscapes in an effort to co-manage these local landscapes for the benefit of conservation.”NamibRand is using its position on these committees, and its close ties to bodies such as the Namibia Nature Foundation, to drive awareness about light pollution and light conservation in general, said Odendaal.In addition, the NGO Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust, located in the reserve, educates visitors, schoolchildren and neighbouring communities about astronomy, the night sky, and other aspects of conservation and sustainability. The organisation hosts about 1 000 school children each year and also disseminates environmental literature to a readership base of about 18 000 readers, said Odendaal.Exceptionally dark skiesNamibRand’s application was submitted to the IDA in February 2012. It was championed by retired physics and astronomy professor George Tucker from Nassau, New York. Tucker is an IDA member who had first visited Namibia back in 2003 and, he said in the application’s introduction, was amazed at the sheer volume of stars visible to him there – stars he’d never seen before.He was even able to move around, in the dark, by the light of the Milky Way alone.Over the past eight years Tucker has been conducting measurements of the darkness of the Namibian sky, using a sky quality meter – this is an instrument which gives a measure of the night sky’s brightness in terms of the magnitude per square arc-second.An arc-second is a unit of angular measurement that is equal to 1/3600 degrees of an arc – we understand that there are 360 degrees in a circle, 60 arc-minutes in a degree, and 60 arc-seconds in each arc-minute. The arc-second is a tiny measurement – for a human hair to cover one arc-second it would have to be viewed from 10 metres away.The magnitude is simply a measure of the brightness of an object.The higher the number given by the sky quality meter, the darker the sky. Tucker consistently got readings of over 22 on his meter – this means that observers will be able to see, with a help of a telescope, stars of the 22nd apparent magnitude, which are very dim. To put this in perspective, the faintest celestial object visible to a sharp naked eye is around magnitude six, and that’s in exceptionally dark conditions. The spiral galaxy M81 or Bode’s Galaxy, magnitude 6.9, is about 12-million light years away and pushes the ability of the naked eye to the limit.In terms of the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, which measures night skies on a scale from one to nine – where one is dark enough to observe phenomena such as zodiacal light and shadows cast on the ground by the Milky Way, and nine is a brilliantly lit urban sky – the NamibRand comes in at one.The measurements haven’t changed in all of the eight years, wrote Tucker, and it was these outstanding readings that prompted him to nominate the NamibRand as an IDSR.“Viewing the pristine night sky over the NamibRand is an unforgettable experience,” he said in a statement. “Achieving this status is a significant accomplishment not just for the NamibRand, but also for Namibia and all of Africa.”Because tourism forms the major part of the NamibRand’s income, it’s imperative for the sustainability of the reserve that its natural assets are protected. As an astrophotography site, it would be highly sought after.The &Beyond hospitality group maintains an observatory, which boasts not only a Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope but also a full-time astronomer, at its luxury Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, situated in the NamibRand. The group also played an important role in the reserve’s new IDSR status.Other concessionaires in the reserve include Wolwedans camp; the self-catering NamibRand Family Hideout; walking safari company Tok-Tokkie Trails; Namib Sky Balloon Safaris; and the conservation organisation N/a’an ku sê Foundation.All of them have stated their commitment to the dark-sky project.Keeping our night skies darkAccording to Dark Skies Awareness, the natural sky brightness level for an unpolluted and clear starry sky is around 21.6 magnitude per square arc-second – at this level the Milky Way can be seen blazing overhead, as well as about 6 000 stars, with the naked eye.Since viewers in bright cities may count themselves lucky to see a few hundred stars in the sky on a clear night, we begin to understand how important it is to maintain these dark-sky areas.Not only are starry skies a pleasure to view, but they are an important part of human and natural life. Many animals only come out at night. Navigators have used, and still use the stars and constellations to guide them. Too much lighting leads to energy waste and the consequent release of greenhouse gases in the production of that energy. It’s even claimed that having better night vision will help to cut down on crime, as criminals will be easier to spot.The IDA has named various measures people can take to keep light pollution to a minimum in areas where it matters. They include shielding outdoor lighting; using light only when necessary and then just enough to get the job done; using dimmers and timers; and using a red- or yellow-tinted light which isn’t as harsh.last_img read more

Yug murder case: Himachal court gives death penalty to three for killing 4-yr-old boy

first_imgA Himachal Pradesh court on Wednesday gave the death penalty to three people for the murder of a four-year-old boy Yug whose skeletal remains were found in a municipal water tank two years later.Shimla Sessions Judge Virender Singh had convicted Chander Sharma, Tajender Singh and Vikrant Bakshi on August 6 for the child’s murder, but deferred the hearing on the quantum of sentence.Yug’s father Vinod Kumar Gupta, mother Pinki Gupta and grandmother Chandralekha Gupta were present in the jam-packed court as the sentence was pronounced.“My son cannot come back but I am satisfied with the verdict of death penalty for the guilty,” Mr. Gupta told PTI.The boy was abducted from the busy Ram Bazar area in Shimla on June 14, 2014 and killed after seven days, even before a ransom call was made.His remains were recovered from a Shimla Municipal Corporation water tank in Kelston area on August 21, 2016, after the probe was handed over to the CID.The prosecution said Yug was tortured, starved and forcibly served liquor before being thrown alive into a water tank.A rock was tied to him when he was thrown into the tank, it said.Yug’s killing had sent shockwaves across the city and residents took out processions and candlelight marches to express rage.Mr. Gupta had filed a missing person’s complaint at Sadar police station the day his son was abducted.A criminal case was registered on June 16, while a letter seeking a ransom of ₹ 3.6 crore was received on June 27.Three more ransom letters were received subsequently.On January 29, 2016, some municipal corporation employees found his skeleton while cleaning the tank after a jaundice outbreak in the city.Public prosecutor Randip Singh Parmar told PTI that statements of 105 witnesses were recorded in the case.The death sentence would have to be confirmed by the high court. The convicts may file appeal against it in the high court within 30 days, he added.last_img read more

Future bird deaths: It’s not the heat, it’s the precipitation

first_imgClimate change will kill off many bird populations, but in some cases it’s not the heat that will do them in. Instead, less precipitation is likely to have the heaviest impact, according to a study published online ahead of print in Global Change Biology. To come to these findings, researchers analyzed the distribution and abundance of 132 bird species over a 32-year period in a region stretching from California to northern British Columbia. Precipitation was shown to be the most accurate predictor of bird population trends, acting as a factor in almost 60% of the species studied and playing the largest role in the wettest month, December. This is likely because winter snowfall has critical carry-over effects in spring and summer, as runoff from snowmelt can impact stream flow, plant growth, and the availability of insects. Because the Western region of North America is expected to experience fewer but more intense precipitation events, this will likely have further negative effects on species that require a consistently wetter environment in order to thrive. One species that is particularly vulnerable to drier conditions in the Pacific Northwest is the rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus, pictured), which is declining at a rate of 3% annually.last_img read more