“I have nothing to hide” – new City Mayor

first_imgCity Hall Forensic AuditNewly elected Mayor of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) Patricia Chase-Green has said she welcomes with open arms any attempt by the Auditor General to carry out an audit of City Hall.New City MayorPatricia Chase-GreenA recently elected People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councillor, Bishram Kuppen, just two days ago, joined the list of voices which previously called for an independent probe into the operations of City Hall. He said with the completion of Local Government Elections (LGE) and the appointment of a new Council, it was time that they get down with serious business of managing the affairs of the city.Kuppen said many citizens have expressed grave concern about transparency and accountability at City Hall, especially with the election of past members of the City Council, including the Mayor-elect and Chairman of the Finance Committee and some of its members who have been part of the administration at City Hall for many years.But even with these claims, the new Mayor said she has nothing to hide. She related that even before she became Deputy Mayor, serving under former Mayor Hamilton Greene, she had always been calling for an audit to be held.“Before I became Mayor or Deputy Mayor, I supported audits. I had also written to the Auditor General for him to come to City Hall to carry out an audit”, she told Guyana Times on Friday. She said back in 2012, she had written more than three letters for the then Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker for him to intervene and have the audits done, particularly because of the excessive spending and abuse of funds by then acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba. She said nothing to that effect has taken place.“So, I will not object to an audit. The Auditor General is free to come,” she told this publication. “I have nothing to hide,” she reiterated.The call for an audit was also made by newly elected Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan. He had said, following his swearing in last Friday, that a forensic audit is very much needed at City Hall, which has seen the presence and operation of a single Council for some 23 years. Duncan stated that an audit should be entered into in good faith.Following its ascension to office in May 2015, controversy began over the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change’s (APNU/AFC) decision to launch forensic audits into almost every State agency in the country, but failed to carry out one into the affairs of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council – an agency said to be plagued by repeated accusations of financial impropriety, which had been backed by several investigations.The City Council for years had failed to address the many issues facing the capital city of Georgetown. While the Council continuously blamed its inability to deal with the problems confronting the capital on the lack of financial resources, then Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker contended otherwise.Whittaker had previously declared that the Council lacked the political will under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to actually commit to responding to the changing dynamics of the city and to provide improved services to residents.More specifically, Whittaker had pointed out that the Council has no serious debt recovery programme to capture the billions of dollars owed in taxes by businesses and residents. Instead, he explained, the Council continuously cried out that the Central Government did not provide adequate funds for it to effectively conduct its operations.last_img read more

Rose Hall Town man gets 10 years for killing reputed wife

first_imgA Rose Hall Town, Berbice man was on Monday jailed for 10 years for hacking to death his reputed wife.Desmond Gordon, also called “Tallman”, 52, of Lot 196 Mangrove Street, Reef Section, Rose Hall Town, Corentyne received the sentence from Justice Brassington Reynolds after he pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.The cane harvester was charged with killing his wife Bhagmattie Angad, called “Kamini,” following a dispute during a drinking spree on May 16, 2016 at their Rose Hall Town home.The couple, who had been together for about eight years, reportedly shared a very abusive relationship. They were imbibing during the day when an argument subsequently erupted.Desmond Gordon and his dead wife, Bhagmattie Angad, in happier timesLoud screams were heard coming from the premises following which the 50-year-old woman was seen running from the house with Gordon in hot pursuit. He had in his hand a cutlass with which he reportedly inflicted several incise wounds about her body. The accused was subsequently seen with blood about his body. The Police were contacted and arrived on the scene and arrested him. Gordon was represented by Attorney at Law Sasha Roberts of the Legal Aid Clinic, while the state’s case was presented by State Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy.Following the guilty plea, the court ordered a probation report on Gordon.Probation and Welfare Officer Maisie Sheppard, in her report, told the court that prior to the death of his wife, the early years of their relationship were filled with joy and laughter, but things changed and she became an addictive substance abuser (cocaine and marijuana).She told the court that when Gordon would rebuke his wife for her misconduct, it frequently resulted in arguments. Further, it was reported by some residents of Reef Section, Rose Hall Town, Corentyne that while the accused was respectful and loved by many for his general disposition within the community he resided, he and the victim (now deceased) were recognised by residents for their periodic consumption tendencies. According to the probation officer, residents noted that both the accused and his wife would consume alcoholic beverages and subsequently becoming verbally and physically abusive towards each other.Justice Reynolds, in handing down sentence, said the penalty is between life imprisonment and 18 years.He said that because Gordon did not waste the court’s time, he would give him the smallest sentence. Five years were deducted for the plea, and another two years for the time already spent in prison. The trial Judge deducted a further year for the killer’s good behaviour in jail based on the probation report, leaving him with ten years to spend in jail.last_img read more

Lusignan Massacre victims remembered

first_imgThe eleven persons who were killed during the Lusignan massacre 11 years ago were on Saturday remembered as the Indian Action Committee coordinated the annual commemoration activity within the community.In the very street where the horrific night unfolded, loved ones along with members of the community, religious leaders and representatives of both the Government and the Opposition shared their sincerest solicitudeBehind a memorial arch which serves as a reminder, former Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission and People’s Progressive Party Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill explained that he is still aggrieved upon reminiscing on the lives that were lost.He recalled that Guyanese from all walks of life would have rendered their solidarity and support towards the families of the victims. He also advocated for citizens to preserve that “oneness” among their fellow people as was seen during that period.“I would like to remind all of Guyana that out of evil sometimes cometh good. The good of that coming together at that time must not be list but never again must our coming together be because of such a terrible act,” he posited.Sentiments were also shared by former Education Minister, Priya Manickchand who provided a detailed description of the community hours after the unfortunate event when she would have visited.She noted that while counselling was provided for relatives of the victims, some are yet to heal emotionally from their anguishes.“What happened in Lusignan shook this entire country…In the weeks that followed, there was also that looking after for each other as God’s children. It was not the families only of the persons who had lost loved ones, it was the entire community,” Manickchand expressed.Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan was also invited to present his remarks as he stated, “Let us teach and inspire our children to embrace and respect each other. Let us, as all the holy books admonishes, that we seek to promote reconciliation and healing of past wounds. To the bereaved families, we do understand that the pain of losing your loved ones in such a tragic manner will always be with you.”The Ethnic Relation Commission was represented by Commissioner Rajkumarie Singh who recognised the dawning of yet another anniversary which distances the incident from the present.However, her advice to the affected families was, “You would have come a far way and many would have given you the support to remain sane and calm. As we gather to pray and express love and kind thoughts, it would certainly help those souls wherever they are.”At the culmination of the solemn service, prayers and recitations echoed from the various holy books as religious leaders offered citations for the departed victims.The massacre unfolded in the wee hours of that January 26, 2008, morning when five children and six adults lost their lives as gunmen invaded their street and carried out the heartless attack in less than one hour. Arming themselves with weapons and high-profile guns, they murdered 48-year-old Clarence Thomas, 12-year-old Vanessa Thomas, 11-year-old Ron Thomas, 32-year-old Mohandan Goordat, 10-year-old Seegopaul Harilall, Seegobin Harilall, 52-year-old Dhanwajie Ramsingh, 56-year-old Seecharran Rooplall, 11-year-old Raywattie Ramsingh, 22-year-old Shazam Mohammed and 52-year-old Shaleem Baksh.Those who were injured included 19-year-old Howard Thomas, 48-year-old Nadir Mohamed, and five-year-old Roberto Thomas.Less than two weeks after the massacre, 10 of the victims’ bodies converged at the Lusignan tarmac where they were laid to rest the same day. Mohammed’s family had completed his rites prior due to religious commitments.Days after, another massacre was executed in Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) which saw the killing of several persons.The motive of the vicious attack is still unclear.last_img read more

Speller headed to D.C.

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Can you spell S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E? Fourteen-year-old David Pruden can. In fact, the Placerita Junior High School eighth-grader has learned tens of thousands of words in preparation for the national bee that begins Wednesday in Washington, D.C. David and his mother, Connie, have spent a year preparing, poring over a book of nearly 4,000 words sent from the bee organizers, and studying 23,400 words downloaded from the spelling bee Web site. David estimates that he has memorized about 20,000 words this year. While that may seem daunting to some, it wasn’t to David. Nor is the idea of spelling these words before a prime-time audience. “I don’t really notice the audience,” he said, recalling the regional and school spelling bee competitions. He studies for the bee a few hours each day, with more time devoted on weekends. So familiar with the different lists of words recommended by spelling bee organizers, David recognized which categories were used in “Akeelah and the Bee.” He saw the movie with his mother the day it hit theaters. “In the movie, they mainly used champion words and ones that are missed,” he said. While David coolly accepts the spelling bee’s new place in pop culture and on prime-time TV, his mother is quite pleased with the turn of events. And what’s her spelling bee word of choice to describe the spelling bee phenomenon? W-H-O-L-E-S-O-M-E, she said. “This is so healthy and wholesome for the kids,” Connie said. “Anything with educational pursuits for the kids is just good news.” sue.doyle@dailynews.com (661) 257-5254160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – Once upon a time, spelling bees were low-key affairs conducted in school auditoriums before an audience mostly of parents sitting on hard metal folding chairs. But in classic Hollywood tradition – where overnight a lowly TV extra can turn megawatt movie star – spelling bees have been discovered. The recent movie “Akeelah and the Bee” and the Broadway hit “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” have propelled spelling bees to new heights. The 79th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will air on Thursday on ABC and ESPN. last_img read more

Evolutionary Predictions Fail Observational Tests

first_imgLately, some expectations by evolutionists have not been fulfilled.  Here are several recent examples of evolutionary upsets:Dinobird genes cook up scrambled eggs:  Scientists expected that the dinosaurs presumed ancestral to birds would show a decreasing genome size.  The thinking was that the cost of maintaining a large genome takes its toll on flight.  In Nature,1 however, a team found that smaller genomes evolved 230 million years ago, long before the early bird caught a worm.  Not only that, the non-avian dinosaur line (ornithischia) had sleeker genomes than the avian dinosaur line (saurischia).  Genome size was not measured directly, but inferred from a relationship between cell size and genome size.  This means that evolutionists cannot presume that genome size has anything to do with phylogeny.    Carl Zimmer in Science1a commented on this paper and on the question about genome size in general, but did not come up with any explanation for how natural selection would favor large or small genomes.  See also the write-up in Live Science which repeats the assumption that dinosaurs had feathers (but compare counterarguments from CMI). Dog beats ape:  Chimpanzees have a hard time drawing inferences about one another’s mental states by their motions.  One can point to hidden food, for instance, and the other will not get the message.  Dogs actually are much better at this, according to an article on EurekAlert.  Since dogs are supposedly farther down the evolutionary tree from humans, though, evolutionists attribute the dog’s better score to domestication: “What accounts for this piece of convergent evolution between humans and domestic dogs is nothing other than the process of domestication – the breeding of dogs to tolerate, rather than fear, human company.”  But would this mean that breeding chimps to tolerate, rather than fear, human company would produce a similar ability?  They didn’t say.Parroting humans:  Ryan Jaroncyk on Creation Ministries Intl reported about N’kisi, the wonder bird.  This parrot can speak meaningful English sentences and has a vocabulary of 950 words.  His report, based on an article in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine, implies that “birds possess a far greater linguistic capacity than chimpanzees.”  This “defies evolutionary predictions,” he said.  He devises a thought experiment: “What if chimpanzees possessed a vocabulary of 950 words, used words in context, and formulated simple sentences like N’kisi the parrot?”  The result would be predictable: “The scientific community and popular media would be in an evolutionary frenzy.”Waspish behavior:  Time to rewrite the evolutionary history of wasps, reported a press release from Univ. of Illinois.  It’s all wrong.  “Scientists at the University of Illinois have conducted a genetic analysis of vespid wasps that revises the vespid family tree and challenges long-held views about how the wasps’ social behaviors evolved,” it states (vespids include yellowjackets, paper wasps and about 5,000 species).  “In the study, published in the Feb. 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found genetic evidence that eusociality (the reproductive specialization seen in some insects and other animals) evolved independently in two groups of vespid wasps.”  The article did not speculate on how difficult it was for this ability to arise by evolution, except to say that “ The evolution of eusociality in wasps has long been a source of debate.”  The take-home lesson is that assuming simple evolutionary lineages can get you stung: “These findings contradict an earlier model of vespid wasp evolution, which placed the groups together in a single lineage with a common ancestor.”    So does this cast doubt on the validity of evolutionary speculation?  Not in the slightest.  Evolutionism is actually strengthened by the finding that data contradict the prediction:“The fact that eusociality evolved independently in two groups of vespid wasps also sheds light on the complexity of evolutionary processes, [Sydney] Cameron said.    “Scientists attempt to make generalizations and simplify the world.  But the world isn’t always simple and evolution isn’t simple.  This finding points to the complexity of life.”Winged migration:  Is there a simple evolutionary tree for bird migration?  Not here, either.  A press release in EurekAlert from studies at the University of Arizona said, “A universal assumption about bird migration has been that short-distance migration is an evolutionary stepping stone to long-distance migration.  The team’s work contradicts that idea by showing that short-distance migrants are inherently different from their globe-trotting cousins.”  Seasonal food availability, not evolution, is apparently the determining factor.  “One textbook explanation suggests either eating fruit or living in non-forested environments were the precursors needed to evolve migratory behavior.” True or false?  “Not so,” is the new correct answer.  The work is published in the March 2007 issue of American Naturalist.Scrub that:  Some birds plan ahead.  The scrub jay makes a list of things to do today, apparently.  This behavior was described in Nature,2 where the authors began, “Knowledge of and planning for the future is a complex skill that is considered by many to be uniquely human…. We show that the jays make provision for a future need, both by preferentially caching food in a place in which they have learned that they will be hungry the following morning and by differentially storing a particular food in a place in which that type of food will not be available the next morning.”  This is a longer time period than similar behavior observed over “very short time scales” in rats and pigeons.  Even crows and apes don’t show this kind of foresight.  “The results described here suggest that the jays can spontaneously plan for tomorrow without reference to their current motivational state, thereby challenging the idea that this is a uniquely human ability.”  Sara Shettleworth, in the same issue of Nature, called this “food for thought.”  Although we cannot mind-meld with a bird brain, it almost seems that these raucous garden birds are able to imagine time-travel into the future to foresee what they will need. Millipedes and biologists in the dark:  Northern Arizona University reported two identical-looking cave millipedes that cannot be related.  “We knew the millipedes likely represented two distinct species because the two populations were separated by the Grand Canyon,” said co-discoverer J. Judson Wynne.  “The fact these two species belong to an entirely new genus was a great surprise to us.”  He called them “living fossils.”Neanderthal verdict:  The idea of a simple replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans, a “a topic of lively debate in human evolution,” will have to be abandoned, apparently.  PNAS3 provided confirmation that the cave layers where bones of both groups have been found do overlap and interstratify with one another.  They based this on radiocarbon, artifacts and stratigraphy.  Unless “native Neanderthal populations effectively self-destructed the moment the first modern populations set foot in their territories,” a completely implausible scenario, they say, it is now “totally inescapable” Neanderthals and modern humans knew each other and coexisted for a long time.The authors in this last item attribute criticisms of the interstratification theory to “a long-standing agenda to deny the possibility of significant chronological overlap and coexistence between late Neanderthal and early anatomically modern populations in western Europe, and therefore to deny any suggestion of potential mutual interaction or ‘acculturation’ between the two populations,” they asserted.  With so many cases like these above, one can begin to meditate on what other agendas might operate to deny the possibility of keeping observations synchronized with theory.1Organ, Shedlock, Meade, Pagel and Edwards, “Origin of avian genome size and structure in non-avian dinosaurs,” Nature 446, 180-184 (8 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05621.1aCarl Zimmer, “Evolution: Jurassic Genome,” Science, 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1358-1359, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5817.1358.2Raby, Alexis, Dixon and Clayton, “Planning for the future by western scrub-jays,” Nature 445, 919-921 (22 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05575.3Mellars, Gravina and Ramsey, “Confirmation of Neanderthal/modern human interstratification at the Chatelperronian type-site,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0608053104, published online before print February 21, 2007.The evolutionists can’t seem to get anything right.  No matter where they look, organisms aren’t cooperating with Charlie’s expectations.  What’s really naked here, the jay bird or Darwin’s little storytelling parade?  Is evolutionary theory really good for anything?  Did not Darwin foist a fruitless path of inquiry on science?  Aren’t his disciples clueless?  Don’t they deserve to be called on the carpet and reprimanded for pretending to have scientific knowledge when the evidence is against them?  We retort; you deride.(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Life’s a beach in South Africa

first_imgIt’s summertime in South Africa, and time to head for the beach. The country has more than 2 500 kilometres of coastline, stretching from the cold waters off the arid West Coast region, southwards around the tip of Africa, and heading up again all the way to the lush St Lucia estuary in the east.Footprints on a beach near the village of Keimouth, where the Kei River flows into the sea, on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape.Here’s some insider info on South Africa’s best beaches, to help you make the most of your time at the seaside.West CoastThe West Coast is less crowded than most of the coastline in summer. It’s not as lush as the other side of the country, and the water is pretty darn cold, but there are some major attractions.The birding is great – particularly in places such as the West Coast National Park and the little-known Verlorenvlei near Elands Bay.Watersports enthusiasts can kitesurf or windsurf or paddle in Langebaan, surf at Elands Bay or a dozen other great spots, and there are some fun horse rides.The West Coast Fossil Park is a spectacularly rich source of fossils of prehistoric mammals, and it’s a great place to spend half a day or so with the kids – or without them.And if you like seafood, do lunch at Muisbosskerm near Elands Bay. It’s a West Coast tradition.This extremely casual establishment consists of a simple shelter right on the beach. You’ll be served the freshest imaginable seafood cooked on an open fire and served with homemade bread. It’s a shoes-and-shirts-optional kind of experience.And there are some good wine farms around. The Sea Point public swimming pool in Cape Town looks over the ocean. (Image: Jeffrey Barbee, Media Club South Africa. For more photos, visit the image library.)Cape TownCape Town has some of the best beaches in the world, but the water is also pretty chilly. Hang out on Clifton if you want to spot an A-list celebrity, go to Muizenberg if you want to learn to surf, see the penguins on Boulders Beach, or rub shoulders with the local bronzed wrinklies at Fish Hoek – possibly the most perfect of South Africa’s beaches.There is so much to do in Cape Town. Honestly. Be warned, though: you won’t find parking anywhere near the beach, and you’ll have to get up early to stake out a square metre of sand for yourself.Cape Town is the city of choice for the brave of heart. Learn to dive, try sandboarding, paddle a kayak in the sea, hike through the Table Mountain National Park or do a tandem skydive with Table Mountain in the background.Brave the summer wind and go kite surfing or windsurfing. Go wild. For something a little different, try riding a camel near Noordhoek Beach, take your kids to Butterfly World near Paarl where they can stand mesmerised by a living kaleidoscope of psychedelic wings flitting past their noses, or visit an ostrich farm to get close to these weird and wonderful birds.Walking up Lions Head on a full moon evening, watching the sun set and the moon rise and walking down in the silvery light is so great, it’s worth braving the crowds to do. You will not be alone. You won’t be alone at the Kirstenbosch Sunday Concerts either, but it’s also worth doing that. And don’t forget the wine …Southern CapeHermanus on the Southern Cape Coast, which is also called the Overstrand, expands to bursting point in December with wall-to-wall people, but some of the other smaller towns are not quite as crowded. Well, only just.Gansbaai is the centre of the shark cage-diving industry so you could eyeball a great white. You could do a wine-tasting tour through some of the most southerly vineyards in the world, visit the southernmost point of Africa at Cape Agulhas, or explore the huge sea cave at Arniston.While it is pretty crowded here, you’ll still find some long, lovely beaches to walk on. Close to Cape Agulhas, in the small farming town of Bredasdorp, is South Africa’s only dedicated shipwreck museum – attesting to the challenging waters around the southernmost tip of Africa. The beach at Nature’s Valley looks out at the hills and tangled indigenous forest of the Tsitsikamma National Park. (Image: Rodger Bosch, Media Club South Africa. For more photos, visit the image library.)Garden RouteThe Garden Route is heaven – tangled forests and deep river gorges fronting lovely long white beaches or craggy headlands. The southern right whales have gone back to Antarctica for the summer, but there are dolphins aplenty, and you may spot some humpbacks or even Brydes whales, either from shore or on a boat trip.You could do an escorted hike along the coast, either on the beaches near Mossel Bay, through the wetlands between Wilderness and Knysna, or along the spectacular rocky coastline of the Tsitsikamma National Park.If you’re looking for more than sun, sand and sea, you could do a tree-top canopy tour, brave the highest bungy jump in the world, mountain bike or hike in the fabulous Harkerville Forest, abseil a waterfall into the mysterious Kaaimans River, take a gentle cruise or paddle up the beautiful, forest-fringed, cola-dark Keurbooms River, or explore the magnificent wetlands of the Wilderness National Park.Wilderness has some of the best and most scenic paragliding in the country. There are more golf courses than you could shake a club at, and your credit card is likely to go into a hypoglycaemic coma with all the fabulous craft shops, art galleries and other tempting delights.You can also watch some of the best polo in the world in Plettenberg Bay, but if you’re thinking of staying there and you haven’t booked your accommodation by now, you’ll probably have to sleep in your car. And you can even get in a game-viewing fix. The yacht basin in East London. (Image: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more photos, visit the image library.)Eastern CapeThe Eastern Cape is the place for a real beach holiday. Port Elizabeth, East London, Jeffreys Bay, Cape St Francis and, to a lesser extent, Port Alfred are quite big centres but they still revolve around the beach.Port Elizabeth is family-friendly, with a beach for every reason. If you head out to the wild side near Sardinia Bay, you can find an almost deserted stretch of sand to walk on – yes, even in December.Close by you’ll find fabulous malaria-free game viewing in the Greater Addo Elephant National Park and a range of smaller private game reserves, including Shamwari and Kwandwe.Not far from Port Alfred is the fascinating little town of Bathurst, with a range of cultural and historical attractions. A bit further afield in Grahamstown you can explore interesting and unusual museums, including the National Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, the National English Literary Museum, the International Library of African Music, and the Observatory Museum, which houses the only genuine Victorian camera obscura in the southern hemisphere. Best of all, it’s another of those really quiet places, as all the students and scholars leave town for the holidays, and it’s a quick drive to the beach at Port Alfred.Jeffreys Bay is the surf centre of the universe – at least to the cool surfer dudes who hang out there. But if you’re a really cool surfer dude, you should load your boards onto the roof of your battered kombi and head off to one of the secret breaks on the Wild Coast. The Wild Coast gets its name from both the raging and unpredictable ocean off its ragged coastline and its remote subtropical interior. A dog wanders the beach at the famous Hole in the Wall on the Wild Coast. (Images: Rodger Bosch, Media Club South Africa. For more photos, visit the image library.)Wild CoastNo-one is really sure where the Wild Coast begins and ends, as it has – over the years – expanded almost to the outskirts of East London. The Wild Coast is magic. The climate and vegetation is subtropical, with mangrove forests, turquoise lagoons, long, deserted beaches and small scattered settlements where people live much the same way they have for centuries.You can hike long or short sections of the coast while spending the night in a hotel or guest house, so you don’t have to carry food and sleeping bags and tents and things along with you. Phew!The Wild Coast is a great family holiday destination – some families have been visiting the same place year after year, for generations.And almost every settlement has at least one vibey backpackers, too. Some of the best are in Cintsa and Coffee Bay. It’s also a great cultural destination, as almost every hotel or backpackers along the coast has a good relationship with the people who live nearby.For a really interesting cultural and genuine ecotourism experience, you can’t beat Bulungula near Coffee Bay – and that’s never crowded.Be warned, though. Fabulous as it is, it is a real cultural adventure and, if your comfort zone is quite small with big, high walls you may suffer some culture shock.South CoastThe Mtamvuna River marks the boundary between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and things are very different on its northern bank. The South Coast consists of a string of beautiful beaches, river mouths and lagoons all fringed by an almost continuous ribbon of coastal development – hotels, malls, housing developments, camp sites and small towns.It’s not remotely peaceful but it is loads of fun. The beaches are long and lovely and mostly family-friendly, the diving is utterly superb, there are golf courses around every corner, and there is a range of accommodation to suit every budget.Just inland is the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, where you can watch some small game or indulge in a range of adventures including white water rafting, abseiling and gorge swinging. Hotels line the beachfront of Durban’s North Beach. Toss a couple of notes to the sand sculptors who create fantastic ephemeral works of art on the beaches of Durban. (Images: Graeme Williams, Media Club South Africa. For more photos, visit the image library.)DurbanJeffreys Bay is not the surf capital of South Africa. Durban is. The only surf museum in the country is here – on the beachfront – and the surf is great.The beaches are a cultural experience. Bronzed surfers rub broad shoulders with elegant, sari-clad matrons strolling the sand, and bead-bedecked traditional healers collect sea water in plastic bottles while charismatic preachers perform al fresco baptisms, and small children build sand castles.The city extends virtually to the high water mark and harassed, deskbound wage slaves shuck their jackets and ties at lunchtime to jog along the beachfront or catch a quick wave.Durban is the easiest seaside destination to reach from Johannesburg. With all those Gautengers in town you’ll be challenged to find a quiet spot on the beach in December, but you’ll never be bored.Toss a couple of notes to the sand sculptors who create fantastic ephemeral works of art on the beach, buy a basket from the craft sellers, and take a ride in a rickshaw.To find out more about what lies under the warm Indian Ocean, visit the water rides and aquariums at uShaka Marine World, where you can – literally – swim with the fishes.And before you leave, don’t neglect to get a taste of bunny chow – a hollowed-out half-loaf of bread filled with spicy Indian curry, and Durban’s signature contribution to world cuisine.North CoastThe North Coast is rather like a more refined version of the South Coast. It’s a bit more tropical, and maybe a bit wilder but the developers seem to have been a tad more restrained – or at least more discerning. Only a tad.As well as awesome beach options, there is the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board in Umhlanga Rocks, where you can find out more about these fascinating, beautiful and much-maligned animals.Numerous exclusive golf estates and resorts lie tucked away behind the dunes. The fish traps in Kosi Bay on the Maputaland coastline have been operated y the same family for hundreds of years. (Image: Jennifer Stern)MaputalandMost of the Maputaland coast is incorporated into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, formerly the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, which is a world heritage site.This whole area is a paradise of sub-tropical beaches, fabulous wetlands, fascinating cultural destinations and spectacular game reserves, including the exclusive Phinda Private Game Reserve and the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, where you will see more rhino than you can imagine.There are interesting hikes, and you can paddle on the St Lucia estuary to check out the crocodiles, hippos and birds.The fishing is good, and the small town of St Lucia seems to be overrun by fishermen with big four-wheel drives. The fishermen also hang out at Sodwana Bay, but there they’re outnumbered by the divers who flock there in droves to explore Africa’s most southerly coral reefs. It’s pretty crowded, but it’s worth it.North of Sodwana it gets uncrowded indeed, where you can stay at one of two luxury lodges, either Thonga Beach Lodge or Rocktail Bay, and do some relaxed diving.Alternatively, you will have had to book a long time ahead to get into one of the few more affordable KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife options.For a truly fantastic and crowd-free experience you could head to the northernmost coastal resort in South Africa – Kosi Bay. It’s a long estuary consisting of four interlinked lakes, each with its own character. Explore the traditional fish traps in shallow crystal clear water surrounded by mangroves, snorkel with colourful tropical fish in the estuary mouth, or paddle the deep cola-dark waters of the fourth lake to visit the most southerly naturally occurring raffia palm forest in Africa.Do a short one-day or multi-day horse trail, or take a guided walk on the beach at night to look out for nesting turtles. KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife does trips, or enquire wherever you’re staying. December is perfect turtle-watching time.Last but not leastWherever you choose to go on this beautiful coast, play it safe. Use loads of sunscreen and a hat, save your sundowners for sundown and don’t drink and swim, and be realistic about your abilities. It’s a big ocean out there.But most important – have fun. Take all your toys – the frisbee, the beach bats, the picnic, the bucket and spade – and all your favourite people, and go back home a few years younger.last_img read more

Free-range eggs offer an opportunity for the next generation

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Tough crop prices, limited land expansion opportunities and a promising young generation encouraged Tim and Angie Brumme to seek out new options to diversify their Big Little Farms, LLC tucked in the beautiful rolling hills near Killbuck in Holmes County.“We farm 800 acres of row crops and hay. We have cattle and sheep and we rely on a lot of rental ground. We decided we wanted to do something on our own ground for more stability,” Tim said. “We have two daughters and are looking for the next generation. There are a lot of broilers around and some hogs and neither was a good fit for us. We were looking at options in February of 2015 when we saw an ad from Kalmbach looking for growers for cage-free, free-range eggs. The costs are not much higher per building, but they are higher per bird. We could see some opportunity with this, though, as McDonald’sThe pastures must meet very specific requirements for the laying facility.and Panera and one restaurant chain after another announced they were going cage-free. We toured some farms and decided to get started.”Tim and Angie, their daughters Kylee, 12, and Kassidy, 10, and Tim’s parents, Bruce and Lynn — with plenty of prayers — made the commitment to get into the free-range egg business on a contractual basis with Kalmbach Feeds. They put built two layer buildings on the farm.“I think this is a great opportunity for family farms to move forward and for us I think this is good for the next generation,” Angie said. “Our prayer was for God to shut the door on this if we weren’t supposed to do it, but things kept working out. I never thought I’d borrow this much money in my life. We got a 15-year loan and if we put every dime back in it the payoff is eight or nine years. Kalmbach arranges for the birds. They have been a great family to work with. Kalmbach is very family oriented. They have their own contract pullet growers. We have the birds for 14 months and then they go to an auction. We own the building and do the labor. They own the birds and supply the feed and market the eggs.”While they were in the process of handling the financing for the project, news about the avian influenza outbreak in Iowa rippled through the poultry production community and gave the Brummes a good scare, but they proceeded, undaunted. The construction process was also more time consuming than planned.“Kalmbach gave us a suggested list of approved builders and we picked from that. The barn is basically a horseshoe with two 52-foot by 536-foot laying barns connected by a 50-foot by 50-foot building with an office, cooler and packing area,” Tim said. “The bins for feed storage are on the inside.”To be free-range, there are very specific requirements for the pasture area.“We had to put an organic pasture mix in with clover, meadow fescue, festulolium and orchardgrass and we needed two square feet of pasture per bird,” Tim said. “For the pastures, the fence is like Ft. Knox. It is not so much to keep the chickens in but to keep the rodents out. The two-inch by four-inch wire fence is 48 inches high and we have steel buried four inches in the ground and at least 24 inches above ground. Then we need a foot-wide stone barrier on each side of the fence with no vegetation. There are also around 300 mousetraps around this facility. Mice carry E. coli and that can lead to E. coli and salmonella in the eggs. All of the access is away from the pasture area to keep traffic away from the birds. We let them out after morning laying and they come in about dark. They don’t go out in rain or extreme heat if the pastures are really muddy.”The chicken accouterments are even more elaborate inside the facility.“The nesting boxes are down the center the whole length of the barn with access from both sides. They are double-sided and each box is four feet wide and a couple feet deep. The bottom is sloped and there is a hole just big enough for the egg to get through. The sloped bottom has this plastic grass, so it is very plush. There is a roof over the box so they have a darker, private area to lay eggs and from there the eggs go down to a belt,” Tim said. “The nest boxes are in the middle then there are 16 feet on either side with raised slats with feed and water. The floor slopes down and the manure falls through. The outside 10 feet is a scratch area. We have more than the required 1.2 square feet per bird. There are perches on the top of the nesting boxes and on the edges of the raised slats. There are hanging perches so the chickens can even jump up and swing.”The finishing touches on the first barn on the farm were completed just before the chickens arrived.“Barn 1 was done Jan. 27 and we got the birds for that barn on Jan. 29,” Tim said. Barn 2 was done March 8 and we got those birds March 11.”While the building process itself was a huge change for the farm, the learning curve with the arrival of the birds was an even bigger change. The Brummes had to initially train the birds.“You are training the birds where the nest box is and where they need to eat and drink,” Angie said. “The birds seek out the shadow places and when you are walking they want to move to the shaded places in the nesting boxes. If you are walking through their space every half hour they learn to go into their nest boxes to lay. They also get used to you being in there and that helps with production. At night, we have to help train them where their food and water is — you have to go through and pick up every bird on the floor when the lights go out. The first couple of nights we were picking up several thousand birds. It was a lot of squats.”Between the two barns, there are 46,000 chickens with each barn producing more than 21,000 eggs a day. The morning is the most crucial time to be in the barn and turn the belt that runs below the nesting boxes.“We get the birds at 16 weeks. They start laying at 18 or 19 weeks. They peak out at 28 weeks or so andOn-farm biosecurity is an extremely important part of maintaining a healthy flock.then you are hoping that it holds on for as long as possible. You hope for 52 weeks. At 40 weeks in Barn 1 and 34 weeks in Barn 2 they were at 94% and 95% laying. Barn 1 is cage-free, organic and free-range. They have organic feed, pasture access and cage-free housing in Barn 1. Barn 2 is cage -free, free-range and conventional feed. We have to be able to certify the pasture organically and we were able to do that for Barn 1. We may do that for Barn 2 in the future. The organic feed costs more and we have extra paperwork and expense with the organic facility. We also have to have a water filtration system and we have to use organic approved treatment, so we have more expense for the organic but so far it seems more lucrative,” Tim said. “It takes 35 minutes to run the belt one full loop at full speed. We max out at 9,000 eggs on the belt. If you get more than that you start to break stuff. We walk the barns three times a day for three reasons: picking up floor eggs, which if you did a good job training those are not common; to check that the equipment functioning properly — feeders, waterers, lights and ventilation; and looking for sick or injured birds.”The eggs go from the belt to a conveyor to the packing machine that puts them in flats of 30 eggs. They are paid a set price per dozen eggs.“We stack the flats on pallets by hand. We look for any cracked eggs or feathers or anything. The whole process takes about four hours every morning and you have to be there. The afternoon is more flexible. We then run each barn once in the afternoon,” Tim said. “We get it all in the cooler and fill out the paperwork. There is a lot of cleaning every day for broken eggs and feathers. A lot of bleach gets used.”“And cleaning egg off the floor is not fun,” Angie added.The level of biosecurity required for the facilities was also a change on the farm.“For biosecurity you enter the first room to get out of the weather and there is a foot bath to bleach your shoes before the second room. In the second room you strip down to underwear and there is a shower if we need to shower in. The third room has barn clothes to change into and there you can enter the packing room,” Tim said. “The only access to the birds is through the packing room. Then to enter a specific barn you change into boots specific to each barn and you bleach your shoes. We wear hairnets, gloves and dust masks specific to each barn. If you have been around other poultry, hogs or house birds, you can’t go into the barn for 72 hours.”The only experience with chickens the Brummes had prior to this very significant addition to their farm was a small flock of backyard layers. They have really learned quite a bit in a very short time about chicken behaviors.“We have all of this space but chickens are funny and they are always huddled up,” Angie said. “Some birds never want to go outside. Some just stand by the door and eat bugs. Some go out in the morning, some go out in the afternoon. They each do their own thing how they want to do it. Some stand by the door with their backsides facing out in the breeze.”The biggest challenge to date has been the chickens’ extreme aversion to bright lights.“The biggest surprise is flashes of light and the affect it has on the birds. They go crazy when they see a flash of light,” Tim said. “I was seeding the pastures and there was a reflection off of the tractor into the barn. They piled up in one corner and we lost 105 birds in 10 minutes. Now we only take equipment in our pastures on a cloudy day or at dusk. Light will even flash off your watch and bother them.”Another challenge is the birds’ proclivity for establishing a pecking order that is to the detriment of smaller birds in the open, cage-free system.“You start with birds of a very uniform size. That helps a whole bunch. We use lighting intensity to help control things too. We keep the lights at 60% or so — fully intensified 100% LED lights intensifies the pecking. If you do see a bird getting picked on you need to remove it. If there is a smaller bird, that is when it will happen,” Tim said. “We are working on a rehab pen. We are separating off part of the water and food lines to let any smaller birds have access to feed and water without getting picked on. Then when they get bigger we can reintroduce them with the rest.”Manure management is another important consideration for the farm.“We plan to use most of the manure on the crop ground. The manure is pretty dry,” Tim said. “We had to get a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan for the manure. We have enough acreage to spread it ourselves and we have a waiting list of people who want to buy it if we need to sell it. We need 750 or so acres with our crop mix and we are right at 800 acres. We soil tested everything and are working with the Soil and Water Conservation District. The birds leave in 14 months and then we have two weeks to clean barns between flocks — 350 tons of manure to remove from the barn and bleach everything down. That will be a busy two weeks.”The new venture for the Brummes has been quite a bit of work, but ultimately has been a good fit for the farm, and its future.“The chickens are happy to see you. They interact with you,” Tim said. “It fits into our schedule time wise, but getting to church on Sundays is sometimes a challenge. It has rearranged everything. It is like having a newborn, but I like the way the birds are housed and the interaction with the birds. It all kind of fit for us. My daughters are 10 and 12 and I don’t necessarily want them in a hog barn, but this is something they can help with at their ages. They do the nightly walk every day. The girls like to find colorful chickens in the barn and find their favorites. We spend about four hours in the morning out here and then two hours in the afternoon. It is seven days a week and every day there are three generations of our family working here on the farm.”last_img read more

Are modern genetics worth the money?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension field agronomistAt summer field days and then at Farm Science Review, I had the opportunity to talk with growers about crop prices and how they plan to cut back on costs for 2019. While yield will help offset the cut backs, price is still a concern. One topic that came up several times was to change their genetics to cheaper hybrids or maybe drop traits. This thought somewhat concerns me.I have conducted a number of trials and comparisons over the years and generally have learned that new is better when it comes to choosing a hybrid or variety. One such comparison I have been making over recent years is of a modern hybrid to open pollinated corn varieties. I know this is an extreme comparison but I do actually have some folks tell me they are looking for a modern open pollinated variety so they can produce their own seed. For 2018, I compared a modern traited hybrid, a modern non-traited hybrid, a modern open pollinated variety and an older open pollinated variety (Table 1). Reid’s yellow dent (the old OP) has a history in Ohio and has played a significant part in modern corn breeding. Table 1. Yield and lodging results for 2018 corn comparisons near South Charleston, Ohio.TreatmentModern hybrid – traitedModern hybrid –non-traitedModern OPReid’s yellow dent——— Yield in Bu/A ———18,000 seed/A205.3192.3125.085.536,000 seed/A242.5219.6142.774.3Lsd 0.1014.7— Lodging 1-10 scale (1 standing, 10 flat) —18,000 seed/A111.754.536,000 seed/A111.755.25Lsd 0.100.7 Typically when I make this comparison between my modern hybrid and Reid’s yellow dent, I have about 100-bushel per acre advantage for the modern hybrid. This year, however, with lodging, insect feeding, disease, and a good growing season for these modern hybrids, the differences were a bit more. I use this information when talking with consumers about the value of modern technology in plant breeding. We can also see the benefit to increasing seeding rates for the modern hybrids.Lodging likely had an influence on yield, with the open pollinated Reid’s yellow dent not standing well versus any of the “modern” corns standing quite well.As to the economics (Table 2) and that thought on using modern hybrids versus open pollinated varieties, here is a limited economic comparison of the four corns used in this trial. Looks like the high priced seed is the winner — but keep in mind this also likely has the latest selection criteria applied, meaning it was chosen for sale as a high yield hybrid under current conditions. Table 2. Economic considerations for 2018 corn comparisons near South Charleston, Ohio. Yield (bu/A) under optimal conditions$/A gross at December corn priceEstimated $ cost/unit seedSeed cost/AValue/A in $Modern – traited242.5$             856$             350$           158$           699Modern non-traited219.6$             775$             250$           113$           663Modern open pollinated142.7$             504$               75$             34$           470Reid’s yellow dent (old OP)85.5$             302$               39$             9$           293last_img read more

Bihar bandh hits normal life

first_imgThe Bihar bandh, called by the Left parties on Thursday to protest the sexual abuse of minor girls in Muzaffarpur shelter, hit normal life in most parts of the State.Rail and road traffic were disrupted by the bandh supporters demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the State Social Welfare Department Minister Manju Verma. Opposition parties, including the RJD, the Congress and the Hindustani Awam Morcha, had supported the call for the day-long bandh. However, none of their senior leaders were seen on the road with the protesting Left party leaders.The ruling NDA, however, called the bandh a complete flop. State Agriculture Minister and senior BJP leader Prem Kumar said it was called only to harass the people. “The Muzaffarpur shelter home case has already been handed over to the CBI… so there was no point in calling the bandh.”Schools closedIn Patna, schools and business establishments remained closed. There was a scuffle between bandh supporters and police at J.P. Golumber (roundabout) where the protesters, shouting slogans against the Nitish Kumar government, tried to march through the Dak Bungalow chouraha (throughfare), the City centre.Train and road traffic were disrupted at Patna, Jehanabad, Gaya, Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur, Siwan, Sheikhpura, Arwal, Nawada, Darbhanga and Madhubani districts. However, no untoward incidents were reported from anywhere. Bandh supporters blocked the railway track for hours at Jehanabad, Sheikhpura, Madhubani and Bhojpur, holding up several trains. Railway officials said the protesters climbed on to the engine of some trains, carrying flags and banners.In Muzaffarpur, Left party supporters and leaders staged a demonstration outside the residence of Brajesh Thakur, the main accused in the case. Thakur headed the NGO that ran the tainted shelter home. The protesters demanded a High-Court monitored CBI inquiry and the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and State Welfare Minister Manju Verma. Ms Verma’s husband was earlier accused of frequent visits to the Muzaffarpur shelter home. The Minister denied this and said it was a “political conspiracy against her family, which belonged to a backward community.”last_img read more