19 Dec

Missing Link in Star Formation Found?

first_imgAccording to a press release from the European Space Agency, a missing link in stellar evolution has been found.  Observation: excited molecular hydrogen in two colliding galaxies.  Conclusion: a star is born:The scientists noticed that the overlapping region of the two colliding galaxies is very rich in molecular hydrogen, which is in an excited state.    In particular, the radiation from molecular hydrogen is evenly strong in the northern and southern areas of the overlap region.  Much to the team’s surprise, however, there are too few supernova explosions or regions of intense star formation there to explain the observed molecular hydrogen emission.  So, the excitation of the molecular hydrogen must be the signature of that observationally rare pre-star birth phase in which hydrogen is excited by the mechanical energy produced in the collision and transported by shock waves.  In other words, these results provide the first direct evidence of the missing link between gas collision and the birth of the first stars.  The team estimates that when the gas will collapse to form new stars, during the next million years, the Antennae galaxy will become at least two times brighter in the infrared.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)The observations were made with ESA’s ISO infrared observatory.  Although scientists have assumed that colliding galaxies produce shock waves that lead to rapid star formation, “So far, however, there was no clear picture of what happens in the time between the collision of two galaxies and the birth of the first new stars.”  The observation of molecular hydrogen in an excited state is said to the be signature of this stage.Excuse me, but are you not assuming what you need to prove?  You said that direct observations of star birth by gas compression are lacking, then assume that gas compression is producing star birth.  That’s called begging the question.    The point of this commentary is not to dispute whether star formation occurs by gas compression caused by shock waves.  It is to encourage good science.  This press release did a mighty sloppy job of making its case.    Assume for a moment you are an unbiased, neutral observer listening to an astronomer prove that when hydrogen is compressed by galaxy collisions and supernova explosions, it collapses into compact burning objects called stars.  From your personal experience, you might be tempted to assume that excited gas does no such thing.  Yet Professor Zubenelgenubi insists it happens, so you, unbiased observer that you are, are eager to hear his proof.  He first claims that the observations are scanty, but we see infrared radiation from areas where star birth is occurring.  Are you convinced yet?  He continues:The astronomers believe that star formation induced by shocks may have played a role in the evolution of proto-galaxies in the first thousand million years of life of our Universe.  Shock waves produced through the collision of proto-galaxies may have triggered the condensation process and speeded-up the birth of the very first stars.  These objects, made up of only hydrogen and helium, would otherwise have taken much longer to form, since light elements such as hydrogen and helium take a long time to cool down and condense into a proto-star.  Shock waves from the first cloud collisions may have been the helping hand.Your next response to him might be that this makes a nice story, but you were expecting proof that stars form by compression of shocked gas and he seems to be just assuming they do.  Silently you wonder if the Professor has actually been observing anything for a billion years, but uninitiated frosh that you are, you meekly point out that it would seem that shocked gas would dissipate, not compress into compact, dense, shining objects.  He then points to his Exhibit A: “Ah,” he patronizes, “but now vee have zee proof!  Vee have zee missing link!” [drum roll] “excited molecular hydrogen!” [cymbal crash].    Biological evolutionists are often guilty of assuming evolution to prove evolution.  Every data point is inserted into a pre-existing mental picture of the very thing they need to demonstrate.  Here we see it happening with astronomers, too.  The story is the thing: the big sweeping panorama of big-bang-to-earth evolution is merely assumed, and every little ounce of observation is fit into the story, whether the observation justifies it or not.  As for proto-galaxies, the science we read shows that the very oldest galaxies were already mature (see 03/10/2005, 08/27/2004 and 07/08/2004 entries), so where are the missing links for this cosmological Cambrian explosion?  The story of star formation itself is not without problems (see 03/31/2004 entry) – so much so, that Simon White remarked, “The simple recipes in published models do not reproduce the star formation we see.  Theorists are now having to grow up.”  This ESA press release seems appropriate only for those in kindergarten.    Maybe shocked hydrogen forms stars, and maybe it doesn’t, but any unbiased truth seeker would surely demand more evidence than this.  Where else would such a physical process occur?  We can observe compressed gas and shock waves in the solar system, such as the bow shock at Jupiter’s magnetic field boundary.  There, the compressed gas just flows around the outsides and doesn’t form compact, dense objects.  In this case, gravity is too small to be a factor, so the comparison may be moot; that’s beside the point.  Read this press release without assuming stellar evolution is true and you would be hard pressed to find a solid reason to find the case convincing.  Don’t ever get swept into the emotional euphoria of any scientist’s bluff.    Is it not ironic that the only ones obeying the bumper sticker, “Question authority,” are the creationists?(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

18 Dec

South Africa takes stock of its farmers

first_img“Currently, challenges facing the department are in delivering and monitoring on land redistribution, tenure, and restitution targets,” Zita said in a statement last week. “Also, the development of black South African farmers cannot be properly measured owing to a lack of statistics on these small-scale farmers.” Informed policy development The census-styled Farmer Register initiative, which will start in the Mgungundlovu District Municipality and eventually cover the entire country, is expected to contribute to informed policy development and improved planning, decision-making and service delivery across the entire agricultural sector. Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Director-General Langa Zita said that a regularly maintained Farmer Register would help the department and other government institutions to measure the sector’s performance accurately, and make informed decisions on priority settings and resource allocation. The completion of the Farmer Register will improve communication with farmers in terms outbreaks of diseases, measures that can be taken, and existing opportunities, and make it easier to estimate the impact of damage at any given time. A team of eight department representatives and 100 contracted field workers are already in KwaZulu-Natal and will be visiting each farm and farmer to capture information on ownership, demographics, employment, production capacity and the type of products produced per geographical area. KwaZulu-Natal is set to become the first of South Africa’s nine provinces to establish an accurate register of all its agricultural producers.center_img SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material Local agricultural officers 11 October 2011 This follows a call to roll out a national farmer registration process aimed at establishing a central database to overcome data shortfalls and baseline information challenges on farms and farmers that interact with the government. The data collectors will be in the company of local agricultural extension officers who are familiar with producers.last_img read more

18 Dec

Storybook sparks love of reading

first_imgDalubuhle Primary School has a commanding, aspirational presence at the top of the mountain, above the town.(Image: Lorraine Kearney) Nal’ibali supports bilingual literacy development and encourages parents and children to engage with each other through reading and storytelling. Author Chris van Wyk held his young audience in the palm of his hand.(Images: Ogilvy PR)MEDIA CONTACTS • Patti McDonaldTimes Media Education+27 11 280 3000• Sally MillsOgilvy PR+27 21 467 1376RELATED ARTICLES• Gift that keeps on giving• Why we need a literate nation• Getting needy kids hooked on books• Reading to boost our self-esteem• Instilling a love of readingLorraine KearneyIn a bowl of mountains in Western Cape, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, is a small corner that remains determinedly French.In Franschhoek, Bastille Day is celebrated each year with all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect of Paris. It is also the wine capital of the country, and its estates carry names such as La Motte and Grande Provence. The posh little town is a favourite of well-heeled tourists, and Franschhoek’s restaurants and guest houses consistently score among the best.But for all its French conceit, Franschhoek has some very South African challenges, not least of which is the gaping chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Its socio-economic problems carry deep scars from yesteryear – the legacy of the dop system, whereby grape pickers and farm workers were paid a portion of their wages in alcohol; the vagaries of apartheid spatial planning; and, of course, the poor quality of public education.Driving from the Paarl road into what is, despite these issues, a slice of heaven, on the left, going up the mountain, are the townships, the poor homes of the coloured and black citizens of the town. Turn left on Le Roux, and climb ever upwards past increasingly dilapidated houses, rutted roads, stray dogs and dirty children. Right at the top, with a spectacular view over the town, is a beacon of hope.Dalubuhle Primary School is a smart new building, with clean lines and a palpable sense of possibility. Its geographic position is symbolic – it is a place to strive for; it is a place where achievement is possible; education, it says, can take you higher. And it is here that Sunday Times and Praesa (Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) chose to launch their new Nal’ibali Storytime collection on May 16, as a precursor to the Franschhoek Literary Festival, an annual gathering of authors, readers, publishers, literary agents, and book lovers.The three-day festival, which ran this year from 17 to 19 May, is a popular event, and tickets and accommodation sell out well in advance. The highlight is the announcement of the short lists for the Sunday Times Literary Awards, the Alan Paton Award and the Fiction Prize. But the programme is diverse: local and international authors do readings from their own works and from the works of others; writers give talks; authors hold talks with each other, or with various erudite personalities and celebrities.Here’s the storyNal’ibali, which means “here’s the story” in Xhosa, is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children’s potential through storytelling and reading.“Children who are immersed in great and well-told stories – and in languages they understand – become inspired and are motivated to learn to read for themselves. Such personally rewarding learning is a recipe for successful literacy development,” the project explains on its website.It supports bilingual literacy development and encourages parents and children to engage with each other through reading and storytelling. It works through various platforms, such as newspaper supplements, book clubs and networks, social media and a mobi site. Book packs are distributed to the Nal’ibali demonstration reading club sites, and the partners work with publishers to create and translate reading materials for children in African languages as well as English to help ensure that sufficient, stimulating books are available.Nal’ibali is driven by Praesa, Times Media, publishers of the Sunday Times, and other partners. “Through sustained mentoring and collaboration with communities, reading clubs, literacy organisations and volunteers of all ages, as well as a vibrant media campaign, Nal’ibali is helping to root a culture of literacy into the fabric of everyday life in South Africa.”StorytellingThe third Sunday Times Nal’ibali Storytime was launched at a simple ceremony at Dalubuhle Primary School, where the power of storytelling was brought home to the children and to the audience. Author Chris van Wyk, who contributed the short story Mr Hare Meets Mr Mandela, was an inspired choice to spark their interest. This is a man who gets children, and who understands the power of stories. Using English and Afrikaans and the language of the taxi ranks and streets, he gripped his listeners’ attention. And then left them hanging, the rest of the story tantalisingly out of reach: if you want to know more, seemed to be the message, read the book.But Siphokazi Mangwane, a young volunteer librarian at the school, took up the challenge, and gave a master class in storytelling. She read Van Wyk’s story in Xhosa and had the audience in the palm of her hand – even those who could not understand the words were bewitched by the lyrical sounds and beautiful clicks of the language.Donald Grant, the Western Cape minister of education, attended the launch, and spoke of the school’s excellent achievements. He said the Grade threes of 2012 had shown “an outstanding improvement of almost 25%” in the annual systemic tests. The Grade sixes had improved 3.9% in literacy, language, and reading.“Reading and language is the key to everything,” Grant stressed, urging the children to work hard and involve their parents in their school work. “The only time you find success before work,” he said in closing, “is in the dictionary.”Collection of storiesCarole Bloch, the director of Praesa and the head of Nal’ibali, explained that the book contained 10 stories that could be read to and by children of all ages in primary school. The stories would also appeal to the child in each adult.“Why do we read?” she asked. “We read to feel good, to become literate. We read to share knowledge, to go on an adventure, to build our imaginations. Nal’ibali sparks a love of stories and reading.”Funds that made the third Nal’ibali Storytime possible came from Coralie Rutherford, businesswoman and philanthropist. In her message to the children, she said: “Because I can read, I was able to go to school, get a degree, work … and give money to Nal’ibali. My message to you is to work hard and you can also be successful.”She urged the girls to “do something that will allow you to look after yourself”, and finally to “do something that will make you happy”.The stories are beautifully illustrated, and there are plans to print the books in all 11 official languages, starting with English. This will be followed by Zulu and Xhosa later this year. The first 200 000 copies will be donated to schools, reading clubs, libraries and other NGO reading initiatives nationwide; two-million copies of the first two collections have been distributed.The stories were commissioned by Times Media. “We have been fortunate to work with a number of talented South African authors and illustrators in putting together this magical collection of stories,” said Patti McDonald, the publisher of Times Media Education’s supplements. “A treasured storybook can be just the thing to spark a love of reading in children and this is precisely our intention – to skill children to become readers for life.”Bloch added: “Books and stories deepen our thinking and understanding by stretching our imagination while encouraging creative problem-solving. To have stories that our children can relate to in their home languages is an invaluable asset that we need to keep growing in our country.”last_img read more

18 Dec

South Africa’s wildlife wonders

first_imgCities have grown, much land has been given over to farming, hunting has wiped out entire herds, and the times when a herd of springbok could take days to pass through a Karoo town are long past.A pair of cheetahs in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. (Image: South African Tourism)Brand South Africa reporterThanks to the foresight of conservationists past and present, South Africa remains blessed with abundant wildlife.The Big FiveThe big catsLesser known wildlifeOver 200 mammal speciesMarine mammals and fishThe crocodile … and other reptilesBirdlifeThe Big FiveBest known are the mammals, and the best known of these are the famous Big Five: elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. Not that giraffe, hippo or whale are small …South Africa’s bushveld and savannah regions are still home to large numbers of the mammals universally associated with Africa.The Kruger National Park alone has well over 10 000 elephants and 20 000 buffaloes – in 1920 there were an estimated 120 elephants left in the whole of South Africa.The white rhino has also been brought back from the brink of extinction and now flourishes both in the Kruger National Park and the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal. Attention now is on protecting the black rhino.Both these parks are home to all of the Big Five, as are other major reserves in South Africa – such as Pilanesberg in North West province – and numerous smaller reserves and private game lodges.The big catsAside from occupying the top rung of the predation ladder, the lion also tops the glamour stakes. Sadly, it does have one formidable enemy in humankind, which has expelled it from most of the country so that it now remains almost exclusively in conservation areas.The beautiful leopard survives in a larger area, including much of the southern Cape and far north of the country, although numbers are small in some places.The cheetah is the speed champ, capable of dashes of almost 100 kilometres an hour. Its population is comparatively small and confined mostly to the far north (including the Kruger National Park), the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape, and reserves in KwaZulu-Natal and North West province.Lesser known wildlifeOther quintessentially African large animals are the hippo, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest (the famous gnu) and zebra, all frequently seen in South Africa’s conservation areas.Heightened awareness, however, has created an increased appreciation of lesser known animals. A sighting of the rare tsessebe (a relative of the wildebeest) may cause as much excitement as the sight of a pride of lion. And while one can hardly miss a nearby elephant, spotting the shy little forest-dwelling suni (Livingstone’s antelope) is cause for self-congratulation.On the really small scale, one could tackle the challenge of ticking off each of South Africa’s seven species of elephant shrew – a task that would take one all over the country and, probably, a long time to accomplish.Over 200 mammal speciesWith well over 200 species, a short survey of South Africa’s indigenous mammals is a contradiction in terms. A few examples will help to indicate the range.In terms of appeal, primates rate highly. In South Africa they include the nocturnal bushbabies, vervet and samango monkeys, and chacma baboons which – encouraged by irresponsible feeding and under pressure through loss of habitat – have become unpopular as raiders of homes on the Cape Peninsula.Dassies (hyraxes, residents of rocky habitats) and meerkats (suricates, familiar from their alert upright stance) have tremendous charm, although the dassie can be an agricultural problem.The secretive nocturnal aardvark (which eats ants and is the only member of the order Tubulidentata) and the aardwolf (which eats termites and is related to the hyaena) are two more appealing creatures, and both are found over virtually the whole country.And for those who like their terrestrial mammals damp, there is the widely distributed Cape clawless otter, which swims in both fresh and sea water. The spotted-necked otter has a more limited territory. Both are rare, however, and difficult to spot.One mammal whose charm is recently acquired is the wild dog or Cape hunting dog, one of Africa’s most endangered mammals. Once erroneously reviled as indiscriminate killers but now appreciated both for their ecological value and their remarkably caring family behaviour, wild dog packs require vast territories.They are found in small numbers in the Kruger National Park and environs, northern KwaZulu-Natal (including the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park), the Kalahari, and the Madikwe reserve in North West province.More common canine carnivores are the hyaena, jackal and bat-eared fox. Feline carnivores – besides the big cats mentioned above – include the caracal with its characteristic tufted ears, the African wild cat and the rare black-footed cat. Other flesh eaters include the civet, genet and several kinds of mongoose.The plant eaters are well represented by various antelope, from the little duiker to the large kudu and superbly handsome sable antelope, which is found only in the most northerly regions.Mammals take to the air, too: South Africa is well endowed with bat species.Marine mammals and fishAnd they take to the sea. The largest mammal of all – in South Africa and the world – is the blue whale, which can grow to 33 metres in length.But of the eight whale species found in South African waters (including the dramatic black-and-white killer whale), the most frequently seen by humans is the southern right whale. This imposing creature comes into coastal bays to calve, allowing for superb land-based viewing.The southern right whale represents one of conservation’s success stories. Once considered the “right” whale to hunt, its population became so depleted that it was designated a protected species. With the greater familiarity that their return to the coastal bays has produced, they are now as well loved as the many dolphins in our coastal waters.South Africa’s seas are rich in fish species. Perhaps the most awesome of these is the great white shark, but this is only one of more than 2 000 species, comprising 16% of the world’s total. Various line fish, rock lobster and abalone are of particular interest to gourmets, while pelagic fish (sardines and pilchards) and hake have large- scale commercial value.The crocodile … and other reptilesLess generously endowed with freshwater fish – 112 named species, a mere 1.3% of the world total – South Africa nonetheless has one river-dweller that is, as much as any of the Big Five, a symbol of Africa. The crocodile still rules some stretches of river and estuary, lakes and pools, exacting an occasional toll in human life.Other aquatic reptiles of note are the sea-roaming loggerhead and leatherback turtles, the focus of a major community conservation effort at their nesting grounds on the northern KwaZulu-Natal shoreline.South Africa’s land reptiles include rare tortoises and the fascinating chameleon. There are well over 100 species of snake. While about half of them, including the python, are non-venomous, others – such as the puffadder, green and black mamba, boomslang and rinkhals – are decidedly so.The country’s comparative dryness accounts for its fairly low amphibian count – 84 species. To make up for that, however, South Africa boasts over 77 000 species of invertebrates.BirdlifeBirders from around the world come to South Africa to experience the country’s great variety of typically African birds, migrants, and endemics (those birds found only in South Africa).Of the 850 or so species that have been recorded in South Africa, about 725 are resident or annual visitors, and about 50 of these are endemic or near-endemic.Apart from the resident birds, South Africa hosts a number of intra-African migrants such as cuckoos and kingfishers, as well as birds from the Arctic, Europe, Central Asia, China and Antarctica during the year.South Africa’s birdlife ranges from the ostrich – farmed in the Oudtshoorn district of the Western Cape, but seen in the wild mostly in the north of the country – through such striking species as the hornbills to the ubiquitous LBJs (“Little Brown Jobs”).One small area alone, around the town of Vryheid in northern KwaZulu-Natal, offers wetlands, grasslands, thornveld and both montane and riverine forest, and around 380 species have been recorded there.A birder need not move out of a typical Johannesburg garden to spot grey loeries, mousebirds, hoopoes, hadeda ibises, crested and black-collared barbets, Cape whiteyes, olive thrushes … or a lone Burchell’s coucal poking clumsily around a tree. And that would by no means complete the list.Among the most spectacular birds of South Africa are the cranes, most easily spotted in wetlands – although the wattled crane is a lucky find as it is extremely uncommon. The beautiful blue crane is South Africa’s national bird, while the crowned crane is probably the flashiest of the three with its unmistakable prominent crest.Among its larger bird species, South Africa also has several eagles and vultures. Among its most colourful are kingfishers, bee-eaters, sunbirds, the exquisite lilacbreasted roller, and the Knysna and purple-crested louries.Reviewed December 2016.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

18 Dec

Midmar Mile record holder to swim for charity

first_img22 January 2014 Seven-time champion Keri-anne Payne will return to the Midmar Mile for the 12th time on the weekend of 8 and 9 February. She won’t be challenging for the women’s title again, however. This time her visit is all about charity. The South African-born British star, a two-time 10 kilometre open water swimming world champion, will be part of the Eight Mile Club, which raises funds for various charities. She will be swimming for two charities, supporting the Pink Drive’s fight against breast cancer in South Africa and the UK educational charity, Skill Force, which partners with schools, and draws on the skills and experiences of predominantly ex- Forces personnel, to inspire young people to succeed.‘Midmar is part of my history’ “Midmar is part of my history and a race I love doing,” she said of her loyal support of the world’s largest open water swimming event. “Midmar was the competition we used to do as a family when we lived in South Africa, so I have many, many fond memories of the swim and will keep coming back as long as they will keep having me.” While still living in South Africa, Payne won her first Midmar Mile title in the girls’ under-13 category in 2001. It was a win that she still regards as a highlight of her swimming career, but, she said, the Midmar Mile has been the source of many other personal highlights.‘Highlights’ “Every year at Midmar has had highlights for me, whether it was the year that I first came back from moving to the UK, or the year that British Swimming brought out a team to do the race, or the year I got the record for the Mile. “My best Midmar, though, has to be the year I equalled the record for number of wins with Natasha Figge [now Panzera, with six victories]. I will always remember my brother Mark and father Jim talking about her when I was about 12 saying ‘She is amazing. I can’t see anyone beating her record!’ That was the year I decided that I would try my best to do that!” Payne’s hold on the title, which she had held since 2008, was broken last year when Ashley Twichell became the first American to claim the honours. Payne had taken a break after the London Olympics where she narrowly missed out on a medal after finishing in a heart-breaking fourth place and was not in prime form, but she was still good enough for second place.‘A really interesting year’ “It was a really interesting year for me,” she recalled, looking back on 2013. “Midmar 2013 was the starting point last year to step back into the open water racing world and I had decided that I wanted to make it back to World Championship form and compete in Barcelona .” Payne placed 14th, just six-and-a-half seconds behind gold medallist Poliana Okimoto. After competing in Barcelona, it was time to rethink her approach. “After the World Champs I took some time out and decided that I needed a break from the sport and had time to really think about what it is that I want to do. After a lot of thought and discussions with my coach, we decided to put a plan in place to get me in the best form possible for Rio 2016, which has meant that this season – September 2013 to September 2014 – I have taken a year out of elite competitive racing marathon swimming. “So far, this year has involved swimming once a day, more gym work, and working on my step into the ‘media’ world.”An exciting time For Payne, who has dedicated so much of her time to competition, the new year is an exciting time filled with very different goals than those she has held onto in recent times. “2014 is a year for me recuperate the mind and body and do things I have not been able to do for many years,” she explained. “An example was being able head out to San Fransisco and Brazil for ‘fun’ competitions, and I am finally able this year to compete in my first Eight Mile Midmar, which I am very excited about!”last_img read more

27 Oct

North Texas Trolls Tennessee On Twitter Regarding Field Conditions

first_imgA North Texas fan paints the ground with green paint.north texas trolls tennessee on twitterNorth Texas is in town to take on Tennessee this Saturday, and it appears that the Mean Green aren’t impressed with what they’re seeing at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee’s field doesn’t appear to be in great condition, and people have noticed. North Texas appears to be annoyed enough to make a joke about it on social media too.Check this out:Pretty sure this is what took place at Neyland Stadium on Friday. #GMG pic.twitter.com/IVtS2o1T4o— MeanGreenFootball (@MeanGreenFB) November 14, 2015Here’s more reaction – even Tennessee fans seem upset.You would think an SEC program could take better care of the grass on the field #Tennessee— John Chelf (@JohnChelf) November 14, 2015You would think there’s enough money at Tennessee to fix the field. This is awful.— Please win out (@Rick__Baird) November 14, 2015Time for the Tennessee donors to put a new field in it seems— Austin Comperry (@AustinComperry) November 14, 2015Tennessee currently leads 17-0 in the second quarter.last_img read more

24 Oct

CAC Seeks More Central Offices

first_imgThe Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) will be relocating its head office from Seaview Avenue, Kingston to a more central location in the city.CAC Chairman, Lorna Green, who made the disclosure at a recent media briefing at the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce in New Kingston, said the move is part of efforts by the agency to improve the quality of service delivered to its clients.She said discussions have started with the owners of a property that has been identified and the Ministry has approved plans for the relocation. She expressed hope for a successful conclusion to the negotiation with the owners. Ms. Green said the decision to relocate arose out of discussions involving the Commissioners and employees, noting that “we feel we need to get more into the heart of what’s happening.”“We…will be improving our visibility so that consumers can more readily feel our presence (thereby) ensuring that consumers have better accessibility to us,” she added.Ms. Green said the agency will be making other improvements including: increasing the use of technology; addressing telecommunications matters and business practices deemed impediments to consumers; as well as enhancing collaboration with colleague agencies.She advised that several cost recovery initiatives have been implemented. These include going paperless in conducting surveys, which she said “has saved tremendously on paper and printing and courier service.”Ms. Green said the CAC is also exploring initiatives to offset operational expenses, particularly research-related activities.“The Commission will be doing all in its power to ensure that Jamaican consumers…are protected,” she assured.By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporterlast_img read more

15 Oct

The top 7 alternative fashion weeks in Toronto

first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Facebook International Muslim Fashion Design Festival (August 13-14)IMFDF is a two-day fashion and design festival geared towards Muslim women, “creating a more cohesive tie between fashion and modesty, while creating stronger ties between Muslim women entrepreneurs and fashionistas,” according to their website.Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (August 15-23)TOM is still working at building its reputation as a professionally run and managed event but it still stands strong as a fashion event worthy of your attention. This August they present Spring/Summer 2017 collections from a slew of local menswear designers. I recommend catching the Joao Paolo Guedes’ show.African Fashion Week (August 18-21)One of the most recognized fashion weeks in Canada in its own right, AFW takes over the Design Exchange and supports local, national and international designers. The African Fashion Industry Awards take place on August 21. There’s also a student designer competition, and runway showcases.TFI Fashion Labels Design Competition Show (Fall 2016)Move over Toronto Fashion Week, the Toronto Fashion Incubator is the fashion beast on the block with lots of cred and cash. They host a Design Competition and Show, which basically acts as a boot camp for new, talented Canadian designers. Stay tuned for an exact date. Twitter Login/Register With: Last month the already shaky legs of Toronto Fashion Week officially gave out when its sudden end was announced to the public. Many were sad, many shrugged their shoulders and kept shopping, others rubbed their hands together and thought: this is the time to really shine.Though the official week is gone, there are a swell of other recurring fashion events in this city worth paying attention to. Even more so now that the official week is dead and gone, it’s these small, more interesting shows that truly support Toronto’s fashion scene without Joe Fresh’s Canadian leftovers trampling in the way.Here’s a round-up of other Toronto fashion weeks and events you should know about. Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

13 Oct

Hotels apologize in China after video shows how they clean

first_imgBEIJING — At least four major international hotel chains have apologized after a hidden camera video of their room cleaning practices in China was posted online.The Shangri-La Hotel in Fuzhou said Thursday that what’s shown in the video violates its hygiene standards, while the Park Hyatt in Beijing called it an isolated occurrence. The Waldorf Astoria in Shanghai and the Sheraton in Guiyang city also apologized.The 11-minute video shows cleaners wiping cups and sinks with dirty towels and sponges. Some use the same towel to wipe the toilet seat.An activist blogger who uses a pseudonym posted the video late Wednesday on his verified account on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter. It was picked up by Chinese media and had been shared 78,000 times by Thursday afternoon.The Associated Presslast_img read more

13 Oct

North Peace Cultural Centre gives annual update to City Council

first_imgThe theatre of the Centre has been an integral platform this year for many performers both locally and those that travelled to the Peace Region to perform for the community.The art gallery focused this year on having more local artists be able to display their work and sell at their own openings and functions which produced a lot of interest in the community.Workshops have been created and funded by the Centre; these are opportunities for local artists to come in and share about their art to help people discover things they might not know about and create new skills by participating in the workshop. In the future, the Centre is looking to provide more experiences for different age groups and by getting community input through Social Media as to what people want to see.There are various Art programs at the Centre such as Let’s Art that is a free Art program for children and teens as well as dance and theatre classes.The Bright Nights event in June captured the theme Classic Country, there was an expanded art market, with spinners and weavers, quilters and potters even a mobile kiln.  There were big machines with rollers helping to create big prints that were then sold as part of the big print sale. This years event will be setting the stage for the 2020 BC Winter Games.Financially the NPCC is on track; there has been restructuring within the Centre with room rentals, creating new uses for previously allocated space with programs such as childcare. The Centre is always looking for a new opportunity to create and find revenue while keeping the costs of running things down. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The NPCC has had a full and evolving year, and with the continued partnership with the City, the Cultural Centre continues to grow and thrive in its programs to maintain arts and cultural exposure in the North Peace region.The report for City Council outlined the NPCC’s shared partnerships with the City, theatre, art gallery, workshops offered, programs at the Cultural Centre, the Bright Nights event, funding, what’s to come and future plans.The NPCC thanked the City of FSJ for their continued support and shared how positive the Management Service Agreement between the City of FSJ and the NPCC has been as it has increased communication and by working together the Centre has seen improvements to the physical building and continued success in collaborated events. There has been a great success with finding new funding partners and continued support from old partners. With the help of community gaming grant and other applied and received grants this helps ensure programs and upgrading opportunities continue at the Centre. The City of FSJ is the major funder of the Centre supporting 24 percent of the budget, without that assistance the centre would be unable to operate as it does.The Centre received a $170,000 Gaming Grant for theatre renovations and is thankful the City matched those funds; all monies will help to refurbish the theatre by new carpeting replacing the seating, replacing theatre lights, curtains, and a paint job.Heading into the future, the season pass will continue for the ‘Presentation Series,’ Childcare has been made available since the closure of Oscare Daycare, and this grows new opportunity to help develop new relationships with the children and families. The Renovation is a big and exciting opportunity for the Centre and a Primary Liquor licence has been applied for to assist in what can be offered to Theatre patrons. The Centre will be hosting the Chocolate Festival this year and has partnered with the Literacy Society with a homework club.The NPCC future goals and wish list include working with the City and to be apart of the Downtown Revitalization plans, through refreshing the outside of the building and including more windows into the gallery, so people on the outside have a better idea of what is going on in the inside. Renovating the concourse and conference room to be more attractive to events. To replace the front doors and glass cubes to improve access and insulation to the building and to add a Marquee at the front of the building.last_img read more