By Ken [email protected] driving accounted for more than 400 deaths on Texas roads last year, and more than 100,000 accidents. That’s why the Texas Department of Transportation has launched its “Heads Up, Texas” campaign to remind drivers during April, which is National Distracted Driving Month, that it pays to pay attention on the road.TxDOT said Friday that the new campaign continues the department’s efforts to deal with distracted driving, a scourge on our highways.Sarah Dupre, TxDOT spokesman for the eight-county Beaumont District, said last year there were 1,351 accidents attributed to distracted drivers in this district. They accounted for nine deaths and 47 serious injuries in the district, which includes Chambers, Jasper, Jefferson, Hardin, Liberty, Orange and Tyler counties. Osman said, “All those factors can cause accidents that can hurt or kill someone. It’s important for parents to talk about all those dangerous factors with their young drivers. “Plus parents need to be a good example for driving safely at all times. We don’t want to see anyone in the emergency room for something they could have prevented.”TxDOT offers these tips for safe driving:Give driving 100 percent of your attention, 100 percent of the time.It’s safer to pull into a parking lot before diverting your attention to your phone or other activity.Put your phone away — or turn it off — before getting behind the wheel.Tell friends, family, and coworkers you won’t respond to calls or texts when driving.Use a smartphone app that sends auto-reply texts when you’re behind the wheel.Join us and take the It Can Wait pledge — that’s the student program — as a commitment to keep your heads up. “We urge drivers to drive more safely,” she said.Nonetheless, TxDOT says, data does not indicate driving is getting safer. One in five wrecks were attributed to distracted driving in this state, an estimated 100,687 crashes last year.A new statewide law — it went into effect Sept. 1 — makes it illegal for drivers to read, write or send a text and drive in Texas. Law enforcement officers are looking for drivers with their heads down distracted by their phones, TxDOT said in an issued statement, leading TxDOT to launch its “Heads up, Texas” campaign.“There is more to distracted driving accidents than people texting and driving or that have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs,” said Dr. Ali Osman of Neighbors Emergency Center Golden Triangle. “Distracted driving also involves drivers that are talking, not paying attention, the radio is too loud, they are daydreaming instead of paying attention to the road.”
Anžejs Pasečņiks against Mason Plamli Photo: EPA / ERIK S. LESSERThe National Basketball Association (NBA) continues its test match marathon. Tonight at At 23:30 Latvian time, Rodion Kurucs and Brooklyn’s “Nets” will compete with San Antonio’s “Spurs”, but at 3:00 Washington’s “Wizards” will fight against the Los Angeles “Clippers” with Angie Passecnik.In the previous match, Brooklyn gave up the New Orleans Pelicans with 68:99, with Kuruc playing in the center position in this match. The Latvian has always been a player in the third or fourth number position, but the coaches of “Nets” have played him in a new role.Kurucs scored 10 points and five rebounds last game.The Brooklyn team will not be helped much of the season by Kevin Durant, Cairy Irving, Spencer Dinvidie, Deander Jordan, Torian Prince, Nick Clackon and Wilson Chandler. Spurs, on the other hand, must do without the experienced leader Lamarcus Oldridge.In turn, in the continuation of the “Wizards” season, all three leaders must be left without – John Wall, Bradley Bill and Davis Bertan. The season continues with Pasečnik, who scored seven points in the previous match against the Denver Nuggets (82:89) and collected five balls under the baskets.The Clippers rank includes the club’s biggest stars – Kavai Lenard, Paul George, Lou Williams and Montrezell Herel. The Los Angeles club is one of the main contenders for the title this season.The NBA season’s “restart” is scheduled for July 31, the play-off matches will begin on August 17, and the season will end in the first half of October. The 22 teams will each play eight more matches, followed, if necessary, by a “play-in” competition for the eighth and ninth place owners, as well as a “play-off” in the classic format.Clubs are currently conducting intensive test matches.Training schedule of the teams represented by Latvian playersDallas MavericksJuly 24, 2:00 a.m. – Los Angeles Lakers (108:104)July 26, at 23:00 – Indians “Pacers”July 29, 3:30 – Philadelphia “76ers”Washington WizardsJuly 22, at 10:30 pm – Denver Nuggets (82:89)July 26, at 3:00 – Los Angeles ClippersJuly 27, at 22:00 – Los Angeles Lakers.Brooklyn NetsJuly 23, at 2:00 – New Orleans Pelicans (68:99)July 25, 11:30 p.m. – San Antonio SpursJuly 28, at 00:30 – Feelings “Jazz”
The Ravens learned of a second veteran player to opt out due to the COVID-19 pandemic as veteran offensive tackle Andre Smith won’t play in 2020.The 33-year-old re-signed with Baltimore in February and was expected to compete for the swing job backing up Pro Bowl tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. after veteran James Hurst was released in March. Smith, a 2009 first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, signed with the Ravens in January and was inactive for the playoff loss to Tennessee. He has appeared in 116 contests (98 starts) in an NFL career spent primarily with the Bengals.Smith’s one-year, $1.05 million contract will now carry over to the 2021 season as he’ll be given a $150,000 salary advance. Ravens return specialist De’Anthony Thomas opted out of the 2020 season on Monday.The decision sheds further light on the Ravens’ shaky depth at offensive tackle. Rookie third-round pick Tyre Phillips played left tackle at Mississippi State, but Baltimore views him being a better fit at guard. Assuming Phillips could step in for either Stanley or Brown would be asking a great deal from a rookie not having the benefit of a normal offseason program or preseason games this summer.(Update 4:30 p.m.: The Ravens re-signed veteran offensive lineman Parker Ehinger, who appeared in two games for Baltimore late last season.)On Tuesday, head coach John Harbaugh revealed rookie tight end Jacob Breeland is not expected to play in 2020 as he continues to work his way back from a torn ACL suffered last season. The University of Oregon product faced the challenge of rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee mostly on his own in the midst of the pandemic. He is expected to rehab with the team and return to play in 2021.Breeland’s absence could increase the probability of general manager Eric DeCosta adding a veteran to go with 2019 Pro Bowl selection Mark Andrews and top blocking tight end Nick Boyle. Three-time Pro Bowl selection Delanie Walker and 10th-year tight end Charles Clay are both free agents and have played for Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, but their plans for 2020 remain unclear, which is notable with so many veteran players already opting out of the upcoming season.Healthy tight ends on the roster behind Andrews and Boyle are 2019 practice-squad member Charles Scarff and undrafted rookie Eli Wolf.Third-year running back Gus Edwards signed his exclusive-rights tender, which will pay him $750,000 for the upcoming season.According to multiple reports, former Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce will not play for Minnesota in 2020 and is considered a high-risk opt-out because of asthma-related concerns. It’s unclear how that might impact the 2021 compensatory pick formula for the Ravens after Pierce signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Vikings in March.
Article published by Basten Gokkon Activists in Indonesia demand the government to issue a new regulation aimed at better protecting the country’s karsts, the unique rocky landscapes that are home to species found nowhere else on Earth.The current regulation governing the management of this limestone topography fails to frame karst preservation in terms of its role as an ecosystem supporting a diverse range of animal and plant life.Activists argue that efforts to regulate the protection of the landscape have received opposition from influential powers that depend on the mineral deposits that make up the karst. YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — Activists in Indonesia have called for the government to issue a new regulation aimed at better protecting the country’s karsts, the unique rocky landscapes that are home to species found nowhere else on Earth.The current regulation governing the management of this limestone topography dates from 2012, issued by the ministry for mines and energy, which frames karst preservation in terms of its geological importance rather than its role as an ecosystem supporting a diverse range of animal and plant life.“We need a regulation with a special agency that oversees the function, exploitation and protection of karst ecosystems,” said Wahyu Perdana, campaign manager for food, water and essential ecosystems at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), at a public discussion last month.Mining activities in a karst area in Rembang, Central Java. Photo by Tommy Apriando/Mongabay-Indonesia.Petrasa Wacana, coordinator for conservation, advocacy and campaign at the Indonesian Speleology Community (MSI), called for a government regulation — which would supersede the ministerial one — that would more holistically govern the management of karst ecosystems, including allowing better conservation efforts and imposing stricter punishment for damage to or destruction of these landscapes.A draft government regulation, known as an RPP, has been in the works since 2010, but opposition from the ministry of mines and the cement industry — which has long eyed the mineral deposits that make up the karst — has prevented it from being issued, according to Petrasa.“If the government continues to be weak in protecting karst ecosystems, the damage will expand and increase the threat of an ecological disaster, particularly drought,” he said. “The importance of a government regulation for karsts is for us to be able to calculate the damage and to design efforts to protect the ecological system.”There’s increased urgency to strengthen the protection of these unique landscapes, as the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo pushes an ambitious infrastructure-building program that has seen cement companies ramp up their production. Mining activities, plantations and large developments such as roads and resorts also continue to pose a threat to Indonesia’s karsts, which span an estimated 154,000 square kilometers (59,500 square miles), or more than 8 percent of the country’s territory.The extractive industries, including mining of limestone for cement, accounted for 48 percent of Indonesia’s total carbon dioxide emissions, according to a 2014 report from the environment ministry.More than 40 percent of the 72,500 square kilometers (28,000 square miles) of karst in East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, two provinces on the Indonesian part of Borneo, are currently under threat from miners, according to Walhi. Similar activities also threaten the biodiversity in karst ecosystems in other provinces, including 190 square kilometers (73 square miles) in South Sulawesi, 254 square kilometers in Aceh and 6.5 square kilometers in West Sumatra.Limestone mining site in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta. Photo by Tommy Apriando/Mongabay-Indonesia.Formed millions of years ago by sea life, the eroded limestone ridges, towers, sinkholes, caves and other geological features that comprise karsts are home to a diverse range of plant species as well as insects, bats and other fauna found nowhere else on Earth.The animals that inhabit these ecosystems are important to the people who live near them, serving as pest control, pollinators and a sustainable source of income — in the case of swifts whose nests are a prized delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Karst landscapes also play an important role in groundwater management.“We must not be partial in understanding the karst ecosystem,” said Walhi’s Wahyu. “We need to take into account the environmental, economic and socio-cultural impacts of damaging these landscapes.”This story was reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and was first published on our Indonesian site on Dec. 3, 2017.Banner image: Limestone mountains in Papua. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Conservation, Ecosystems, Environment, Environmental Activism, Habitat Degradation, Habitat Destruction, Habitat Loss, Karst, Mining Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored
Share This!This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a truly special one as we once again dust off the blue blazer and step behind the SATURDAY SIX News Desk. What a week. If you’re like us you’ve been deluged with #Blizzard2016 pictures, the Oscars dealing with a diversity problem, and Donald Trump being Donald Trump. However we’ve been informed that a whole lot of stuff happened in the theme park world recently. So we took a page out of our old college playbook and pulled an all-nighter, cramming as much information as we could into our brains so that we could report back to you, Dear Reader, with all the relevant facts (and before we forget it all tomorrow). So sit back, know that you are getting all the news that’s fit to print (and plenty more that’s not), and let’s begin our countdown starting with…# 6 – Pizza Planet Under Major Refurbishment. Coming Back With a New Theme?Could Pizza Planet actually come back with a Muppets theme? (photo by Matt Cleary)First, some backstory. For years Jim Hill, an icon of theme park media, has been telling the story of how the Muppets were originally going to be used in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. One of the things that never ended up coming to fruition was The Great Gonzo’s Pandemonium Pizza Parlor. Can you imagine a Muppet’s themed restaurant, with a kitchen run by the Swedish Chef, where Mama Melrose’s Restorante Italiano now sits? Dare to dream.Now it’s time to put on the detective hat. Recently Pizza Planet at DHS closed down for a long refurbishment. What should have been a wonderfully themed venue themed to the world of Toy Story was instead one of WDW’s most bland restaurants/arcade. Back at the D23 Expo, Disney unveiled details of the upcoming Toy Story Land expansion. This new land is going to built on the other side of the park, so it would be strange to have a Pixar related restaurant (no matter how poorly themed) so far away from everything else. After the construction walls went up around Pizza Planet, WDW uncharacteristically put up a lot of humorous signs on the walls. Gags that are much more in line with the type of jokes you see in the building of say… Muppet*Vison 3D. In a recent edition of the Disney Dish podcast, Jim Hill said that instead of a Gonzo themed restaurant, we may actually see The Swedish Chef’s Cooking School.Will Pizza Planet return from it’s refurbishment as a Muppets themed restaurant? Time will tell, but it is almost assuredly not coming back as Pizza Planet and for that we can all be thankful. To stay up to date on this story follow the boys over at WDWThemeParks.com.# 5 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios Closes More Attractions, Informs Guests “Good luck with all that.”A glimpse into the near future? (photo by Michael Sheehy)As of this writing it has been 490 days since DHS closed the Studio Backlot Tour. Since that time other attractions have joined the hit list. The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. The Magic of Disney Animation. The Cars and Phineas and Ferb meet and greets. Mulch, Sweat, and Shears. On April 2nd, DHS will close Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, Honey, Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, Watto’s Grotto, the Monsters Inc meet and greet, and the Studio Catering Co quick service restaurant. The Earffel tower, one of our favorite WDW park icons, will soon be finding its way to the Disney Dump and we’ll also be losing The Writer’s Stop (home of the famous carrot cake cookie. You can still get the cookie at Sweet Spells, but it’s not the same).That’s a lot of stuff, especially for a park that has never been known for having a lot of rides and attractions in the first place. With Star Wars Land and the previously mentioned Toy Story Land not opening any time soon (and that may be the understatement of the year), guests who haven’t been keeping up with the closures at DHS are in for a quite a surprise when they enter the park this summer (and this fall, this winter, 2017, 2018, etc). Guest Services may see as much action as they did during the disastrous Villains Unleashed party back in 2014.Will DHS do anything extra to “make good” on charging a full day price for a park going through this big of a change? History tells us possibly not, as Disney’s California Adventure just made guests suck it up during their transition from The Park No One Liked into one featuring Cars Land. But to be fair, guests out there were steps away from Disneyland. Guests at DHS are steps away from EPCOT, another park with a shortage of rides. If we had our druthers, we’d have DHS bring in a rotating cast of rare characters for meet and greets and allow each guest an automatic FP+ to meet one of their choice.Clearly that is just wishful thinking, but let’s just hope DHS is fully stocked with extra hula hoops.–# 4 – It’s Not Just Theme Park Attractions That Get Delayed…The Internet broke last week with the news that Star Wars Episode VIII would be delayed. The movie was scheduled to be released on May 26th, 2017, but was pushed back to December 15, 2017. The Episode VIII news was covered by just about every media outlet in the known world. In fact at least 100 news outlets possibly were created just to make sure we got this story. This was an interesting decision by Disney because moving Episode VIII put it directly into competition with James Cameron’s Avatar 2, which was scheduled for Christmas Day 2017. Considering Disney put in a rumored 400 Million dollars (and possibly more) into building Avatarland at Animal Kingdom, it is not in their best interests to cut the legs out of that movie by positioning a sure hit in Star Wars right before it.Just throwing this out there, but the night of the Star Wars announcement, Your Humble Author speculated on why Disney made the controversial move.The very next day it was announced that Avatar 2 would not be coming out on Christmas Day. There is no timetable on when we may see another Avatar film. Disney also filled the open gap in its film schedule by moving Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales into the May 26h slot. This is a movie that possibly no one outside of Johnny Depp’s accountants asked for, but we’re getting it anyway.–# 3 – Orlando Creates Almost 50,000 New Jobs in 2015, Most Of Them Being WDW CMs Holding “FP+ Starts Here” SignsTwitter user @patrick720 caught this picture of a FP+ line for Expedition Everest starting at Finding Nemo: The Musical.This can’t possibly be what they imagined in the board meetings when discussing the benefits of FP+. (photo by Seth Kubersky)Whaaaaaaaaat?! (photo by Seth Kubersky)For a long time the “Best Kept Secret” at Walt Disney World was the Disney Vacation Club. Today, the best kept secret is the next level bananas FP+ lines you just may run into when out at the parks. Sometimes they are so long it’s hard to believe they are even real. In a move that surely has prevented Guest-on-Guest violence, you’ll notice Cast Members holding “FP+ Line Starts Here” signs.There are several factors that contribute to this perfect storm of a queue. It takes more time for guests to line up their MagicBands to the readers compared to a CM just quickly checking the time off an old legacy Fast Pass. Guests not understanding the FP+ system clog up the space while talking to CMs. It is also rumored that WDW has put in a lot extra FP+ into the system to make sure guests feel they are getting the selections they want.So now we have a whole bunch of guests in ridiculous lines in an unthemed outdoor make-shift queue, who then walk briskly through an actual themed queue once they get past the bottleneck. Can Disney fix this problem? There’s certainly some short term things they can do to make the guest experience better. Move the FP+ scanners deeper into the attraction. Install more FP+ scanners or at least separate them enough to truly allow multiple people to use them at once (just like at the turnstiles at the front of the park, many guests don’t realize a MagicBand reader is open because of how they are set up and a CM rarely – if EVER – alerts them to an open one). Long term maybe Disney can figure out a way where one person can scan in for an entire group. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that WDW ultimately has to do one specific thing to help alleviate this problem: Fix it!–# 2 – Walt Disney World Petitions Government to Fly Drones in OrlandoA glimpse into a possible dream of Bob Iger as he imagines drone usage in Orlando. (photo by Michael Sheehy)There’s a famous expression, one that most people say incorrectly, in you can’t eat your cake and have it too. After 9/11, Disney lobbied for – and got – a No-Fly Zone status instituted for the airspace above its theme parks. Universal doesn’t have this status. Nor does Six Flags, SeaWorld, or any other theme park or amusement park in the United States. This was all fine and dandy, until Disney wanted to use drones.We heard about Disney applying for patents to use drones in theme park shows a while back, but not much since. On episode 95 of the Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill and Len Testa, they discussed the possibility of a new show using drones (which they refer to as “Flixels“) coming to Seven Seas Lagoon as part of Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021. This show would be a replacement for the Electrical Water Pagent.Will Disney get their FAA exception? Well, we opened this segment with an oft-used expression and we’ll close with another one: money talks. Disney has a lot of money and even more influence, especially in the state of Florida. You can all but take it to the bank that we’ll be seeing drones in some capacity at Walt Disney World in the near future.–# 1 – END OF THE WORLD NOTICE: LeFou’s Brew Gets a Seasonal Version with LeFou’s Winter BrrrewClutching my pearls.–Not a dream! Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story! This past week Disney unveiled a seasonal variant to LeFou’s Brew. Available at Gaston’s Tavern, this hot cocoa drink certainly makes one think about its similarity to hot Butterbeer, which was introduced to tremendous success during last year’s Celebration of Harry Potter. So similar that we wonder if the newly introduced Butterbeer Fudge will be followed by a LeFou’s Fudge.The bad news? The name LeFou’s Winter Brrrew is next level bananas. The good news? LeFou’s Winter Brrrew is approximately one million times better than standard LeFou’s Brew. We’ll take it! So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX News Desk: Bait You Can Click On. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)How great is this. The “FP+ Line Starts Here” for Stitch IS RIGHT WHERE THE LINE BEGINS ANYWAY. You Can’t make stuff like this up. (photo by Seth Kubersky)If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:Six Events That Will NOT Be On Any Theme Park CalendarSix Things We Wish Theme Park Fans Would Stop Complaining AboutInaugural 2015 Theme Park Awards (AKA ” The Burgys”)Six Great Souvenirs From the Universal Orlando ResortSpecial Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, the Keymaster Tim Grassey, master photo manipulator Matt Cleary, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.
3 April 2014 Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane has called on all South Africans to uphold the freedom the country has enjoyed since 1994. “Our freedom came at a tremendous cost and must be jealously guarded,” Chabane said on Thursday. “We must never lose sight of the sacrifices of those who came before us, so that we can be free today. “It is up to us to carry the torch of freedom that so many of our fellow countrymen and women fought and even died for. Let us be the generation who celebrate their legacy.” Chabane was speaking in Pretoria following a session of the National Communication Partnership (NCP), which brings together stakeholders in the communication field to discuss ways of uniting the nation around the 20 Years of Freedom celebrations. The session coincided with the launch of 2014 Freedom Month. Chabane said the fact that South Africa was now a better place to live in before 1994 was not empty rhetoric, as everyday life was full of examples of how things had changed since 1994. “This is not simply a feel-good declaration,” he said. “It is evident wherever we look. It is tangible and very real for millions of South Africans as they go about their daily lives. “We have worked tirelessly to build a better life for all our people, especially those who were deliberately underdeveloped and sidelined by apartheid.” Chabane said South Africa’s 20 Year Review, released last month by President Jacob Zuma, confirmed the progress the nation had made. He added that over the past 20 years the country had forged a national identity built on mutual respect, tolerance and acceptance, which formed the basis for nation building and social cohesion. “We have much to celebrate and be proud of in this regard. At one time, we were a nation at odds with each other. Our peaceful transition stunned the world [at a time] when some predicted that the country would be divided by a civil war.” Source: SAnews.gov
Boeing’s 737 plant in Renton, Washington. US plane-maker Boeing has emphasized the economic importance of the aerospace industry as it engages the Chinese and US governments on Beijing’s proposal to slap a tariff on its smaller aircraft.The Chinese included aircraft in a raft of potential retaliatory measures after US President Donald Trump revealed plans to levy a 25 percent tariff on more than 1300 goods from China.The Chinese reaction comes as a new analysis by OAG suggests China will surpass the US as the world’s biggest aviation market earlier than expected.Beijing’s tariff would affect aircraft with a net weight of between 15,000kg and 45,000kg. This covers existing Boeing 737s and smallest 737 MAX. Orders of these planes by Chinese carriers accounted for just 5 percent of Boeing’s backlog, according to The Wall Street Journal.A Bernstein report said there are no Chinese orders at this stage for the Boeing 737 MAX 7 and just 24 for 737 NGs.The imposts have yet to be levied and US business interests have until May 22 to object to President Trump’s proposals.The US government then has another 180 days to decide whether to implement the policy and both sides are reported to be in intense behind-the-scenes negotiations.Boeing issued a short statement saying it was confident that dialogue was continuing.“While both governments have outlined positions that could do harm to the global aerospace industry, neither has yet imposed these drastic measures,’’ it said.“We will continue in our own efforts to proactively engage both governments and build on the recent assurances by the US and Chinese leaders that productive talks are ongoing.“A strong and vibrant aerospace industry is important to the economic prosperity and national security of both countries.”READ GE tests flies the GE9XTM for the 777XThe Bernstein report also identified the impact of the tariffs on the global economy, rather than on aircraft orders, as the key issue.It said the tariffs should have little impact on Boeing’s financial situation, assuming the 737 MAX 8, 9 and 10 models likely to be the subject of future aircraft competitions in China remain unaffected.“The new tariffs on airplanes, soybeans, and automobiles add to others imposed yesterday,” its said. “Should we see a global recession, this would be highly negative for Boeing and Airbus.”The importance of the Chinese market to aircraft manufacturers was underscored by a recent analysis by aviation specialists OAG.The analysis said China was second only to the US in terms of planned aircraft deliveries in 2018, with 342 planes heading to US carriers and 327 to their Chinese counterparts.Boeing had a clear lead with 219 aircraft compared to 78 from European counterpart Airbus.The analysis argued China was closing the gap with the US in terms of airline capacity.It estimated the deliveries would see an increase of 53.3 million seats in China over the full year compared an increase in 15.7 million in the US, where many of the planes were slated as replacements for existing aircraft.“A significant 37.6 million move forward in closing the 2017 capacity gap between US and Chinese airlines which stood at some 355 million seats with 1,064 billion seats from U.S. carriers playing the 709 million produced by Chinese carriers,’’ it said.“IATA’s most recent forecast is for China to surpass the United States as the largest air travel market in the next five years, which is two years earlier than expected.“When allowance is made for additional inbound capacity growing rapidly into the market our assessment is that 2022’s milestone may actually arrive in 2021, trumping all expectations.”
CCH Tax Day ReportHouse Republicans’ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) repeal and replacement legislation unveiled on March 6 (TAXDAY, 2017/03/07, C.1) is already generating significant feedback from the Trump administration, as well as from Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The American Health Care Bill may face an uphill battle, as several key Republican lawmakers, as well as Democrats, are not in favor of at least some of the provisions within the healthcare overhaul.Despite criticism of the measure in Congress, the administration formally announced its support of the legislation in a March 7 letter sent to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore. The two committees worked together in the drafting and unveiling of the repeal and replacement legislation. Both committees are scheduled to begin the markup process on the legislation on March 8.Health and Human Services Secretary Thomas E. Price wrote to Brady on March 7, saying, “On behalf of the Trump Administration, I am writing in support of the reconciliation recommendations recently released for consideration by your Committees. Your legislative proposals are consistent with the President’s commitment to repeal the Affordable Care Act; provide advanceable, refundable tax credits for Americans who do not already receive such tax benefits through health insurance offered by their employers…empower patients and put healthcare dollars and decisions back into their hands by expanding the use of health savings accounts….”Price also noted in his letter that achieving all of the president’s health care reform goals could not be done procedurally through a budget reconciliation bill alone. “Your proposals represent a necessary and important first step…” Price said. President Trump said on March 7 that this legislation is “phase 1” and that “Our wonderful new healthcare bill is out for review and negotiation.”Vice President Pence also weighed in on the Trump-backed healthcare bill, saying that he and the president believes the American Health Care Bill is the framework for moving forward. “We are open to improvements in the legislative process…but this is the bill, and the president supports the American Healthcare Act.” ”The Trump administration has implied it expects the bill will change throughout the legislative process. A number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern with the tax credits provided within the measure.Ways and Means ranking member Richard Neal, D-Mass., criticized the GOP proposal as a “step backward.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released a statement criticizing the GOP bill as being beneficial only for the wealthy. The bill “hands billionaires a massive new tax break while shifting huge costs and burdens onto working families across America,” Pelosi said.Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in a March 7 news conference, summarized the GOP legislation as a “tax cut for the wealthy.” According to Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the bill would tax Americans more based on their age.Pelosi also criticized House GOP lawmakers for what many Democrats have been calling a “lack of transparency” in the drafting process of the measure (TAXDAY, 2017/03/08, C.1). According to Pelosi, the original ACA bill was released 30 days prior to its first vote in committee. The House GOP bill was released two days prior to the scheduled markup of March 8. Pelosi on March 7 sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., asking that members not be asked to vote on the legislation until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) answer a series of questions she outlined pertaining to coverage, quality and cost.“This is not the… repeal bill we’ve been waiting for,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah said in a statement. “It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction,” he added.Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was also critical of the GOP legislation as seeming too similar to the ACA. “We should be stopping mandates, taxes and entitlements, not keeping them,” he said on social media on March 7. According to Paul, the legislation “will not pass.” He added, “Conservatives are not going to take it.”. Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate with 52 seats; 51 Republican votes are needed for the bill’s passage.By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News StaffLetter from HHS Secretary Price Regarding Reconciliation BillsLetter from House Minority Leader Pelosi to Ways and Means Chairman Ryan Regarding Health Care Legislation