Dear Editor,Congratulations to Volda Lawrence for becoming the Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).Now, with Ms Lawrence being seen as a potential future presidential candidate in addition to being a current Cabinet member, and being now the second most powerful person in the PNCR, she needs to send clear messages to the Guyanese nation that she has no problem with apologising for wrong things said or done.Such a gesture would be indicative of her mature and people-centred leadership and suggest that Ms. Lawrence is ready to be a leader of empathy and caring concern. Thus Ms Lawrence should:1. Apologise to the nation in general, and females in particular, for referring to rape as ‘deflowering’. After all, rape — especially of children — is a heinous crime that now carries the death sentence in some nations, and that often leaves lifetime trauma in its wake.2. Apologise to the nation, and especially children, for saying that sexual molestation of children is a ‘family matter’. The fact is that the rape of our children should be everyone’s concern, and should be treaated with utmost seriousness every which way, including legally.Indeed, Ms Lawrence has created history by her ascension to the chairmanship of the PNC. Now she needs to create history by proving that she is a leader who has no qualms about apologising for seeming to condone and/or water down the most horrible of crimes against the nation’s most vulnerable citizens – our children.Madam Chairman, please rise to the level of leadership demanded of your position. Prove to the nation that you are big and strong and humble enough to say ‘sorry’.Sincerely,Annan Boodram
7 February 2006If you are at a loose end on what to do, why not take the family on a unique cultural experience at Lesedi Cultural Village, less than an hour’s drive from Johannesburg.Developed in 1995 as a tourist attraction, Lesedi – a seSotho word meaning “light” – now features five traditional homesteads, each representing a different culture: Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Ndebele.You can visit for the day or stay overnight. Overnight visitors who wish to experience the magic and traditions of the people of South Africa can spend a night in one of the villages.On arrival, guests are welcomed by the families, who then take them to their homestead and show them where they will be staying. The head of the home then becomes their personal escort for the rest of their stay.Day visitors are just as welcome, and the village provides a fabulous cultural experience for families looking for something to do. There is an option of just lunch, or the whole Lesedi experience. Day tours start at 11.30am and at 4.30pm.Lesedi has also opened a new restaurant, the Nile Room, complete with hookah pipes, which serves fabulous cuisine from North Africa. It is available to be booked for private parties, and entertainment – such as belly dancing – can be organised.Current culinary facilities at Lesedi are the Nyama Choma, a 200-seater restaurant decorated in true African style and divided into three sections – North Africa seating 40 people, East Africa seating 60 people, and South Africa seating 100 people.There are also two bomas: the traditional Ingoma, a huge indoor hut used for buffet or barbecue style functions, and the outdoor boma used for informal functions. Both bomas accommodate 120 people.Lesedi is situated on the R512 en route to Sun City, just 10km north of Lanseria Airport. Access from Pretoria and Johannesburg is easy.For reservations call (012) 205-1394 or e-mail Lesedi MarketingSource: Lesedi Cultural Village
South Africa’s lawmakers want mobilephone operators to cut the interconnectionfees by more than half.(Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. Formore free photos, visit the image library.)MEDIA CONTACTS• Josias MathibaIndependent Communications Authorityof South Africa+27 83 377 1493+27 11 566 [email protected]• Tiyani RikhotsoDepartment of Communications+27 12 427 8010+27 83 800 [email protected] NdlovuThis festive season will be lighter on South Africans’ pockets as the country’s lawmakers put pressure on mobile phone operators to slash interconnection fees by more than half before the end of 2009.Users pay interconnection fees to enable mobile phone calls to be transmitted from one network to another.On 13th October, the first of a two-day public hearing session in parliament, Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda ordered the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), responsible for licensing and regulating electronic communications and broadcasting services, to implement a policy of cheaper fees by 30 November.Mobile phone operators MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Virgin Mobile were also present and invited to make written submissions stating their case.These companies currently charge an interconnection fee of R1.25 per minute in peak time, but the proposal is that they cut this to 60 cents a minute, and then reduce fees by a further 15 cents over the next three years.Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications is now putting significant pressure on operators and Icasa to effect this after four years of failed talks.According to Communications Department spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso, they may call on Icasa to force operators to cut their rates if it feels discussions between the companies and the regulator aren’t proceeding fast enough, referring to the 30th November deadline.Rikhotso said due to the unproductive talks “we, as a department, would like to see this issue resolved as soon as possible”.Mobile phone charges in South Africa are the third highest in the world after Mexico and Turkey, according to Icasa. This is a big concern of the government, as it feels high rates result in a less competitive telecoms environment.“There is no dispute that costs are too high,” Rikhotso said. “The question is how much should costs be slashed by. We want these reductions to come into effect by Christmas. Consumers are being hard hit by these high prices.”The day before the public hearings mobile phone operators met with Icasa to discuss the much-disputed fee issue. “Icasa will make recommendations on pricing to lawmakers following the meeting,” said acting Icasa spokesperson Josias Mathiba.Public upbeatConsumers have welcomed the move. National Consumer Forum (NCF) chairperson Thami Bolani said: “Having a cellular [mobile] phone is a necessity not a luxury for many people living in rural areas. We need reasonable, affordable telecommunications.”The NCF is an independent non-profit organisation committed to raising vital consumer issues, and the protection and promotion of consumer rights and interests in South Africa.Independent Democrats leader Patricia De Lille, who in June 2009 launched a campaign for cheaper telecommunications prices and was later joined by other political parties, is also pleased. “After years of being ripped off by the cellular phone operators, this is the Christmas box we all deserve,” she said. De Lille accused operators of stalling so they could rake in more money.Advocate Johnny de Lange of the African National Congress has also slammed mobile phone operators for their high interconnection fees. “They have done terrible things to the South African people,” he said.Operators warn governmentMobile phone operators have warned the government that drastic cuts could destabilise the South African mobile phone market or even discourage future investment in telecommunications infrastructure.At the hearings Vodacom warned parliament that the government’s plan to force a cut could negatively affect a significant segment of the company’s usership.“An arbitrary and ill-considered intervention could have unintended consequences, which could result in the disconnection of marginal customers who make up at least 30% of our customer base,” Vodacom chief executive Pieter Uys said in a written submission.MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, said the government’s plans may force it to cut its expenditure and raise other fees.“While there may be pressure and dire need for drastic reductions in interconnection rates, there is no sound basis to determine the extent of this reduction,” the company said in their submission.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Water quality efforts, transportation and infrastructure, and wildlife management were among the priorities set by delegates at Ohio Farm Bureau’s 101st annual meeting.The approved policies set the direction for the organization’s activities in the coming year. A record 381 delegates representing all county Farm Bureaus participated in the debate and discussion.During the meeting held in Columbus, delegates heard from Gov. Mike DeWine on the important role Ohio Farm Bureau had in shaping the direction of the recently unveiled H2Ohio initiative and water quality programs. Members supported incentives for performing on-farm nutrient management trials that address water quality, along with the ongoing partnerships of statewide conservation efforts, including the newly formed Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative, of which Ohio Farm Bureau is a member.Efficient transportation is vital to a robust agriculture sector in Ohio, and delegates discussed finding a balance between the need to deliver farm products while maintaining roadways and bridges.Protections on the farm from wildlife and predators also were considered. Attendees discussed the need for sensible hunting regulations that respect the concerns of farmers, including the security of livestock and crops.Other policy votes addressed property rights, education and permanent daylight saving time.More than 600 members and guests attended the meeting in Columbus Dec. 4-5. Ohio Farm Bureau’s mission is working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.Questions should be directed to Ty Higgins, 614-246-8231.
Chelsea increase bid for Zenit midfielder Paredesby Freddie Taylor9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea have increased their offer for Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Leandro Paredes.Zenit rejected Chelsea’s first bid of £26.8m over the weekend.According to the Evening Standard, Chelsea have now raised that offer to £31.2m.It is believed Zenit are holding out for £36m for the Portuguese.Blues boss Maurizio Sarri is desperate to sign another midfielder after Cesc Fabregas joined Monaco last week.Paredes could potentially earn a four-year deal worth £80,000-a-week. TagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
Crystal Palace down to single senior keeper for Liverpool clashby Freddie Taylor9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveCrystal Palace are facing a goalkeeper crisis ahead of Saturday’s clash with Liverpool.With goalkeepers Vicente Guaita and Wayne Hennessey both injured, manager Roy Hodgson is set to hand Julian Speroni his first appearance since December 2017.Both Guaita and Hennessey were injured in last Saturday’s loss to Watford.They are both expected to miss a month of action, leaving Speroni as the only fit senior goalkeeperat Selhurst Park. About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
EAST LANSING, MI – OCTOBER 29: Head coach Jim Harbaugh Michigan Wolverines shakes hands with head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans after a 32-23 Michigan win at Spartan Stadium on October 29, 2016 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)What is better than re-watching the famous final play of the 2015 Michigan-Michigan State game? Re-watching it in the form of a Michigan-Michigan State LEGO recreation.Jared Jacobs, a 38-year-old man from Idaho, unveiled a Michigan-Michigan State LEGO recreation on his Instagram account this week. Jacobs’ miniature players re-enact the last play of the 2015 game, when Spartan DB Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up a muffed snap by Michigan punter Blake O’Neill and raced to the end zone for the win.“I wanted to make it really detailed, even down to the bricks in the background,” Jacobs told the Detroit Free-Press. “It took awhile to accumulate that much LEGO.”Here is the final result, which the Free-Press estimated took 40-50 hours to produce.:Since Jacobs debuted his recreation, it has gone viral. It even made an appearance on Sportscenter.He didn’t just recreate UM-MSU either. Jacobs also unveiled a LEGO rendition of BYU’s Hail Mary against Nebraska.Jacobs’ work contains amazing attention to detail. We can’t wait to see what the 2016 college football season has in store for him.
APTN National NewsThe fate of a virtually untouched piece of nature in the Yukon lies in the hands of the territorial government.A recent plan calls for a large proportion of the Peel watershed to be protected, but the government has yet to accept it or reject it.As APTN National News reporter Shirley McLean reports, First Nation elders want their voices to be heard.
TORONTO – The number of Toronto-area homes sold last month fell nearly 35 per cent and the average selling price dropped more than 12 per cent from historically high levels set last year, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported Tuesday.There was a total of 5,175 residential transactions through the board’s MLS system last month, down 34.9 per cent compared to the 7,955 sales in February 2017.The region’s average selling price, covering all types of residential re-sales, was down 12.4 per cent to $767,818 — still one of the most expensive in Canada.Detached houses — the most expensive of the major categories tracked by TREB — showed the biggest declines in both the number sold and sales price compared with last year.The detached category had also been the driving force behind a spike in prices in the early months of 2017 that prompted the Liberal provincial government to introduce a package of measures last April to cool the market.That was followed by a financial stress test for buyers, which officially came into effect on Jan. 1 for federally regulated lenders, following an October announcement by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.“When TREB released its outlook for 2018, the forecast anticipated a slow start to the year compared to the historically high sales count reported in the winter and early spring of 2017,” TREB president Tim Syrianos said Tuesday.“Prospective home buyers are still coming to terms with the psychological impact of the Fair Housing Plan, and some have also had to re-evaluate their plans due to the new OSFI-mandated mortgage stress test guidelines and generally higher borrowing costs.”Interest rates for mortgages have risen over the past year as a result of moves by the Bank of Canada and fluctuations in the bond markets.However, higher borrowing costs and OSFI’s stricter requirements didn’t slow the Montreal market — which marked the 36th straight increase and the busiest month of February since 2012 for the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board.The Montreal-area board reported Tuesday that home sales in Quebec’s largest market — which hasn’t seen a spike like Toronto’s — grew five per cent year-over-year in February, and prices were up across all major categories of properties.The median price of single-family homes across Greater Montreal was $310,000 last month, up six per cent year-over-year, while plexes reached $481,500, a one per cent increase. The median price for condominiums grew by five per cent last month, with half of all units selling for more than $250,000.“The acceleration in price growth is a direct result of increasingly tighter market conditions, which can be explained by a decline in the supply of properties for sale,” said Mathieu Cousineau, president of the GMREB board of directors.The number of active residential listings in the board’s Centris system was 26,252, down 17 per cent compared with last year.In the Toronto area, the number of active listings in TREB’s MLS system totalled 13,362 and there were 10,520 new listings, below the 10-year average for the month of February.Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis, said the supply of listings will likely remain below average in many neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area and that could “further hamper affordability” over the long term.In the coming months, however, Mercer said TREB expects to see a pickup in sales and selling prices relative to last year in the spring and summer — which had seen a drop-off after the provincial housing package was announced.“Expect stronger price growth to continue in the comparatively more affordable townhouse and condominium apartment segments,” Mercer said Tuesday.
WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signalled that it may step up its pace of rate increases because of solid economic growth and rising inflation.The Fed now foresees four rate hikes this year, up from the three it had previously forecast.The central bank on Wednesday raised its key short-term rate by a modest quarter-point to a still-low range of 1.75 per cent to 2 per cent. The move reflects the economy’s resilience, the job market’s strength and inflation that’s finally nearing the Fed’s target level.The action means consumers and businesses will face higher loan rates over time.It was the Fed’s seventh rate increase since it began tightening credit in 2015, and it followed an increase in March this year.When the Fed last met in May, it left its short-term rate unchanged. But it noted that inflation was edging near its 2 per cent target after years of remaining undesirably low. Should inflation eventually pick up, the Fed might move to tighten credit more aggressively.A gradual rise in inflation is coinciding with newfound economic strength. After years in which the economy expanded at roughly a tepid 2 per cent annually, growth could top 3 per cent this year. Consumer and business spending is powering the economy, in part a result of the tax cut President Donald Trump pushed through Congress late last year.With employers hiring at a solid pace month after month, unemployment has reached 3.8 per cent. Not since 1969 has the jobless rate been lower.Beginning in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis, the Fed kept its key rate unchanged at a record low near zero for seven years. It then raised rates once in 2015, once in 2016, three times in 2017 and now twice this year.The Fed aims to achieve its mandates of maximizing employment and stabilizing prices by lowering rates to spur growth during times of economic weakness and raising rates to slow growth if the economy threatens to overheat. When the Fed tightens credit, it aims to do so without derailing the economy. But if it miscalculates and overdoes the credit tightening, it can trigger a recession.The economic expansion has survived for nine years and is now the second-longest in history. It will become the longest if it lasts past June 2019, at which point it would surpass the expansion that lasted from March 1991 to March 2001.While many economists think the current expansion will exceed the 1990’s streak, some worry about what might occur once the impact of the tax cuts begin to fade and the Fed’s gradual rate hikes begin to curb growth.Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, has suggested that the economy could experience a “growth recession,” in which the gross domestic product slows so much that unemployment starts to rise.The Fed’s pace of rate hikes for the rest of the year could end up reflecting a tug of war between a sturdy economy and the risks to growth, including from a potential trade war that could break out between the United States and such key trading partners as China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico. All those countries have vowed to retaliate against any U.S. tariffs with their own penalties against U.S. goods.A global trade war would risk cutting into U.S. economic growth by depressing American export sales and raising inflation by making consumers and businesses pay more for imports.The Fed’s meeting this week is to be followed by policy meetings of two other major central banks — the European Central Bank on Thursday and the Bank of Japan on Friday. While Japan’s central bank isn’t expected to make any major policy shifts, anticipation is rising that the ECB may outline as early as this week plans to begin paring its bond-buying stimulus program as a prelude to ending them altogether.