Athletics swept by Astros to close homestand with five straight losses

first_imgOAKLAND — Houston is a problem the Athletics may not be capable of solving.The Astros got run-scoring singles from Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel against Lou Trivino in the top of the 12th inning Sunday to send the Athletics to their fifth straight defeat and sweep a three-game series before a crowd of 23,144 at the Coliseum.At 29-30, the Athletics are 10 1/2 games behind the two-time defending American League … Click here if you’re unable to view the photo gallery on your mobile device.last_img read more

African infrastructure invite for BRICS

first_img20 August 2013South Africa President Jacob Zuma has invited businesses from the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries to partner with Africa in its drive to develop the continent’s infrastructure.Addressing the first meeting of the BRICS Business Council in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Zuma noted that South Africa, as part of its push for increased regional integration and cross-border trade within Africa, was a strong promoter of both private and public sector investments on the continent.“Over the last few years, the South African Reserve Bank approved nearly 1 000 large investments into 36 African countries.”Intra-African trade levels were still far below their potential, Zuma said, owing in large part to under-developed production structures and inadequate infrastructure – a major theme of the meeting between BRICS and African leaders at the 5th BRICS summit in Durban in March/April.African infrastructure initiative“In my capacity as the champion of the AU’s [African Union’s] Presidential Infrastructure Initiative, I warmly invite you to collaborate with us in realising the delivery of infrastructure on the continent,” Zuma told the gathering of business leaders.“We specifically champion the North-South corridor with its particular emphasis on road and rail infrastructure, initially from Durban to Dar es Salaam and ultimately from the Cape to Cairo.”Zuma noted that South African state corporations, including electricity utility Eskom and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, were already intensifying, or preparing to intensify, their investments in African infrastructure projects, particularly in electricity supply and road infrastructure.The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) had invested a total of R6.2-billion in 41 projects across 17 African countries in 2012, the bulk of these being in mining, industrial infrastructure, agro-processing and tourism.Within South Africa, Zuma said, the government was on course to spend in excess of R4-trillion on infrastructure over the coming years, focusing on rail, roads, energy, water, sanitation and communication.“There is a lot of scope indeed for mutually beneficial partnerships within the BRICS community which will create much-needed infrastructure in Africa,” Zuma said, adding that Africa’s success story augured well for the BRICS-Africa relationship.African free trade areaThe rate of return on foreign investment in Africa was already higher than in any other region in the world, Zuma said, and the continent’s potential – given its mineral wealth, agricultural resources, young population and growing middle class – was enormous.In addition, the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (Comesa) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) were working on creating free trade area that would join the markets of 26 countries with a combined population of nearly 600-million people and a GDP of US$1-trillion.This, Zuma said, “will form the basis for an Africa-wide free trade area, which could create a single market of 2.6-trillion US dollars.”Zuma noted that a key outcome of the BRICS summit in Durban had been the agreement to establish a BRICS development bank to help finance infrastructure development in the BRICS and other developing countries.“BRICS leaders plan to meet again on the margins of the G20 Summit in Russia next month and we will consider the progress report from our finance ministers in this regard,” Zuma said, adding: “I trust that this meeting will provide further impetus to the BRICS-led new development bank.”SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

South Africa pours millions into sanitation

first_img2 June 2015Growing up in Evaton, in Gauteng, Themba Msukwini had to use a bucket system. Like many in Evaton, Msukwini he had no access to basic sanitation services and as a result struggled to live a dignified life.But much has changed for Msukwini since those days. He now owns a home with a flush toilet inside his house, thanks to a multibillion-rand project the government has introduced to help people like him.The Sedibeng Regional Sewer Scheme (SRSS), a project expected to cost about R4.2-billion, is set to change many lives in the municipal area of Sedibeng.It was identified by the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC) and approved as a Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP). There are 18 SIPs across the country devised to solve issues such as raw sewage spillage, as well as unlock job opportunities and improve service delivery. Upgrading Sedibeng’s sewerage system will not only improve the state of sanitation and human settlements in the district municipality, but will also serve as a source of employment and poverty alleviation.Job creationAbout 6 000 jobs are also expected to during construction. The job opportunities include the appointment of suitable local sub-contractors, local people and helping unemployed youth qualified in the relevant engineering fields by giving them relevant work experience. The project is expected to be completed in the next three years.Msukwini is impressed by the SRSS project because not only will it create jobs for the community but there will also be skills development.“The most exciting part about this project is that people will also be trained in various skills like plumbing,” he says. “This will benefit the community since we have a huge problem of leakages due to old water pipes, which were installed early in the 1970s.“The project will further fast track the building of low-cost houses because you can’t build houses without a sewer system. The sooner the sewer system is installed, [the sooner] houses will be built and people will finally have houses with basic needs.”Decent basic sanitationMsukwini acknowledges the strides already made to ensure that people have decent sanitation, but cautions that it is important to monitor that the money is well- managed when it is allocated from national to provincial government. People with the appropriate skills to deliver quality work should be employed to do the job, he says.“This will help the government to avoid unnecessary spending on repairs due to shoddy work.”The Department of Water and Sanitation declared May Sanitation and Hygiene Month to remind South Africans about the importance of decent sanitation and good hygiene practices. This year, the theme was “It’s not all about flushing”.The aim was to raise awareness and the public profile of sanitation and to encourage local governments to prioritise sanitation, health and hygiene as key issues to build a healthy nation.South Africa achieved the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the population without basic sanitation before the target of 2015. In the 2014/15 financial year alone, it eradicated 20 560 bucket systems.Ending the bucket systemWater and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the department intends to conclude the eradication of the bucket system programme in formal areas by December 2015. However, she acknowledges that the challenge of access to water and sanitation continues to characterise the daily life of many people.Statistics show that the country has been increasing access to sanitation. But the pace of delivery remains a concern. According to the 2012 National Report on the Status of Sanitation Services, approximately 11% of South African households do not have adequate sanitation services.Some of the challenges in sanitation can be traced to urban migration and the proliferation of unplanned informal settlements. Mokonyane says the country has committed to join the world in enhancing and fast-tracking programmes and developments to fulfil the international commitment to eradicate sanitation backlogs by 2015.“In response to the global sanitation-related challenges, the South African government has set out higher targets and committed itself to ensuring that all buckets in formal established settlements will be eradicated as soon as possible.”Saving drinking waterThe current methods of disposing human waste through flushing toilets that use drinking-quality water are unwise and unsustainable, she adds. Her department is looking at numerous technologies that will help to eliminate the use of clean, drinkable water to dispose of human waste.“We are determined to introduce low-water and no-water solutions as part of our efforts to deliver sanitation. Dry sanitation solutions must become the reality we work towards in both low- and high-income households going forward.’Working with the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and National Treasury, her department has adopted the Back-to-Basics programme aimed at supporting municipalities with resources accompanied by capacity to bolster performance in the delivery of water and sanitation.Through this programme, 27 district municipalities and the Nelson Mandela Metro have been identified as areas in need of interventions. Bold interventions have also been made in areas including Makana Local Municipality in Eastern Cape, Ngaka Modiri Molema District in North West Province, Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, Sedibeng in Gauteng and Jozini in KwaZulu-Natal.Partnering with provincial governments through premiers, her department has put in place community-based initiatives as part of a people-centred approach to ensure communities are involved in work in their respective areas.The establishment of community water forums is a direct result of the interventions her department has undertaken and the affirmation given to communities and their leaders as partners in the department’s programmes.It has also initiated the Adopt a River programme, which has been launched in a number of provinces as a community-driven initiative.Source: SAnews.govlast_img read more

Changes made to rules on applying fertilizer

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Take a whole class or just take the test, which is better? Farmers will get to decide.Those who apply fertilizer on 50 or more acres now have the option to take an exam or attend a three-hour course to get the required certification aimed at protecting water quality.The exam is a new option the Ohio Department of Agriculture will offer to make it easier for farmers to get certified and yet ensure that those who are applying fertilizer know the safest measures. The exam option was one of the rule changes on fertilizer certification that went into effect Oct. 1.The other changes include the following:Those renewing their fertilizer certificate, which must be done every three years, must either pass a fertilizer exam or take a one-hour class. Previously, the recertification class was two hours.Two new items were added to the required records that certified fertilizer applicators must keep: Now they must record the number of acres where they applied fertilizer and the total amount of fertilizer applied.Only one person at a farm or business needs to be certified to apply fertilizer. A family member or employee of the certificate holder can apply fertilizer under their direct supervision, meaning the certificate holder has instructed that person where, when and how to apply fertilizer, and is no farther than 25 miles away or within two hours travel of the applicator working under their direct supervision. The rule change clarified that provision.Certificate holders who do not also hold a license to apply pesticide will see their fertilizer certificate period change to April 1 to March 31. Previously, it was June 1 to May 31. The new cycle is aimed at ensuring that certifications will generally be in place prior to the planting season.A grace period of 180 days is offered to certificate holders who do not send in their application and payment prior to the date their certificate expires. However, in renewing their certificate, the applicant has to have completed the required training or test before March 31.Since Sept. 30, growers who apply fertilizer to more than 50 acres have been required to be certified, a measure aimed at keeping nutrients from farm fields from contributing to algal blooms in Lake Erie and other bodies of water. Phosphorus and nitrogen in fertilizer can trigger the growth of algal blooms. Those blooms produce toxins in the water, making it unsafe to swim in or drink. And as the blooms decompose, they take oxygen from the water, depleting the supply available for other aquatic life. The extent of 2017 algal blooms in Lake Erie was the fourth most severe in recent history, according to a November report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.All the recent changes are aimed at making the certification process less burdensome on farmers, said Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist for Ohio State University Extension.OSU Extension provides training for applying fertilizer, focusing on teaching how to apply fertilizer at the correct rate, time and location in the field, to keep nutrients in the field and available to crops while increasing stewardship of nearby and downstream water resources.“The goal of the entire program is that we constantly educate ourselves about how we are applying these fertilizers and make sure we understand the science behind it,” Hall said.“Hopefully more education, more understanding and continued research will help with the runoff issue.”Across Ohio, an estimated 3,700 private fertilizer applicators have certificates expiring in March 2018, according to records from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.OSU Extension will begin offering recertification programs in nearly every county this fall and winter, said Mary Ann Rose, program director for OSU Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program.“Most of the fertilizer recertification programs will be offered in combination with pesticide recertification meetings; farmers will have the option to attend either or both,” Rose said.For more information, visit agri.ohio.gov/apps/odaprs/pestfert-PRS-index.aspx and nutrienteducation.osu.edulast_img read more

Tax planning in an unusual year — Prevented planting indemnity payments, Market Facilitation payments and cost-share payments

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management & Director, Ohio State University Income Tax SchoolsWith unprecedented amounts of prevented planting insurance claims this year in Ohio and other parts of the Midwest, many producers will be considering different tax management strategies in dealing with this unusual income stream. In a normal year, producers have flexibility in how they generate and report income. In a year such as this when they will have a large amount of income from insurance indemnity payments the flexibility is greatly reduced. In a normal year a producer may sell a part of grain produced in the year of production and store the remainder until the following year to potentially take advantage of higher prices and/or stronger basis. For example, a producer harvests 200,000 bushels of corn in 2019, sells 100,000 bushels this year and the remainder in 2020. As most producers use the cash method of accounting and file taxes as a cash based filer, the production sold in the following year is reported as income in that year and not in the year of production. This allows for flexibility when dealing with the ups and downs of farm revenue.Generally, crop insurance proceeds should be included in gross income in the year the payments are received, however Internal Revenue Code Section (IRC §) 451(f) provides a special provision that allows insurance proceeds to be deferred if they are received as a result of “destruction or damage to crops.”As prevented planting insurance proceeds qualify under this definition, they can qualify for a one year deferral for inclusion in taxable income. These proceeds can qualify if the producer meets the following criteria:Taxpayer uses the cash method of accounting.Taxpayer receives the crop insurance proceeds in the same tax year the crops are damaged.Taxpayer shows that under their normal business practice they would have included income from the damaged crops in any tax year following the year the damage occurred.The third criteria is the sometimes the problem. Most can meet the criteria, although if producers want reasonable audit protection, they should have records showing the normal practice of deferring sales of grain produced and harvested in year 1 subsequently stored and sold in the following year. To safely “show that under their normal business practice they would have included income from the damaged crops in any tax year following the year the damage occurred” the taxpayer should follow IRS Revenue Ruling 75-145 that requires that he or she would have reported more than 50% of the income from the damaged or destroyed crops in the year following the loss. A reasonable interpretation in meeting the 50% test is that a farmer may aggregate the historical sales for crops receiving insurance proceeds but tax practitioners differ on the interpretation of how this test may be met.One big problem with these crop insurance proceeds is that a producer can’t divide it between years. It is either claimed in the year the damage occurred and the crop insurance proceeds were received or it is all deferred until the following year. The election to defer recognition of crop insurance proceeds that qualify is an all or nothing election for each trade or business IRS Revenue Ruling 74-145, 1971-1.Tax planning options for producers depend a great deal on past income and future income prospects. Producers that have lower taxable income in the last 3 years (or tax brackets that weren’t completely filled) may want to consider claiming the prevented planting insurance proceeds this year and using Income Averaging to spread some of this year’s income into the prior 3 years. Producers that have had high income in the past 3 years and will experience high net income in 2019 may consider deferring these insurance proceeds to 2020 if they feel that this year may have lower farm net income. Market Facilitation PaymentsWhen the next round(s) of Market Facilitation Payments (MFPs) are issued, they will be treated the same as the previous rounds for income tax purposes. These payments must be taken as taxable income in the year they are received. As these payments are intended to replace income due to low prices stemming from trade disputes, these payments should be included in gross income in the year received. As these payments constitute earnings from the farmers’ trade or business they are subject to federal income tax and self-employment tax. Producers will almost certainly not have the option to defer these taxes until next year. Some producers waited until early 2019 to report production from 2018 and therefore will report this income from the first round of Market Facilitation Payments as taxable income in 2019.Producers will likely not have the option of delaying their reporting and subsequent MFP payments due to the fact they are contingent upon planted acreage reporting of eligible crops and not yield reporting as the first round of MFP payments were. Cost share paymentsIncreased prevented planting acres this year have many producers considering cover crops to better manage weeds and erosion and possibly qualify for a reduced MFP. There is also the possibility that producers will be eligible for cost-share payments via the Natural Resources Conservation Service for planting cover crops. Producers should be aware that these cost-share payments will be included on Form 1099-G that they will receive and the cost-share payments will need to be included as income.You are advised to consult a tax professional for clarification of these issues as they relate to your circumstances.last_img read more