SA goes for cleaner diesel

first_img27 July 2006Ever felt like holding your breath when the car in front of you is emitting foul-smelling, dirty black smoke from its exhaust?One of the major causes of that noxious smoke is the sulphur content in diesel fuel, but with South Africa tightening its legislation around air quality, the country is seeing more of its big polluters taking innovative steps to reduce toxic atmospheric emissions.In some cases they are going a step further, offering products that fall below the minimum emissions now permissible, as is the case with BP, which has launched a new ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuel containing 50 parts per million of sulphur.The standard cleaner diesel fuel currently allowed by law has a sulphur content of no more than 500 parts per million (ppm).However, South Africans are likely to see this level gradually reduced to a point where even less sulphur emissions are permissible, says Peter Lukey, chief director of air quality management at the Department of Environmental Affairs.The National Environment Management Air Quality Act of 2004 tightens up the conditions under which emissions that reduce air quality are permissible.The government has set up a timetable for reductions in the sulphur content of diesel, with further reductions on the cards as South Africa gradually brings its standards in line with those around the world.BP Cleaner Diesel 50“[I]n reality all new-technology diesel vehicles are designed for European standard diesel with a sulphur level of 50ppm, which is why we launched BP Cleaner Diesel 50,” BP’s Sipho Maseko said at the launch of BP’s Cleaner Diesel 50 product in Cape Town on Wednesday.The company’s new product is currently available only in the coastal regions of Cape Town and Durban, but will be available in Gauteng in a few months’ time. BP Cleaner Diesel 50 The move has been welcomed by the government, with Lukey saying there was “no doubt that a reduction in sulphur [in diesel fuel] will have a dramatic impact on our air quality”.Clearing the ‘brown haze’Lukey said the government would continue encouraging industry’s compliance with its air quality standards, and a list of “controlled emitters” would soon be published in a move to reduce air pollution.One of the first controlled emitters the government would looking at was motor vehicles, Lukey said, noting that air pollution studies had found that the major cause of the “brown haze” covering the country’s cities was vehicle emissions.Ivan Bromfield, a health manager at the City of Cape Town, said one particular study had found that diesel vehicle emissions caused about 48% of this “brown haze”, followed by petrol vehicles with 17% and industry emissions with 13%.Source: BuaNews Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more


Constitution Hill is a window on a brutal past

first_img“The Hill, as it is fondly known, is an engine of growth and transformation for downtown Johannesburg and a place where residents and visitors can interact in a space that takes the country’s history forward in a respectful but progressive manner,” explains Petal Thring, the chief executive officer of Constitution Hill. (Image: www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com) Melissa Jane Cook• Petal ThringCEOConstitution Hill+27 11 381 3100info@constitutionhill.org.za• ConHill is preferred heritage destination • Experts unpack meaning of human rights memorial • Gandhi’s memory lingers in South Africa• Values, heritage can be learnt here • ConCourt art tells South Africa’s storyConstitution Hill is home to the Constitutional Court, the foundation of all that is democratic in South Africa. It is a reminder to all who visit that dignity, democracy, freedom and equality are entrenched in the Constitution.For decades, South Africa was an international pariah, notorious for its apartheid policies. Today, Constitution Hill, in Braamfontein has undergone a phenomenal transformation, a microcosm of the changes the country as a whole has undergone. Once a place of inhumanity and brutality, it is now a place of justice and learning. A commanding presence, Constitution Hill overlooks Johannesburg and provides a unique perspective on the City of Gold and its rich history. This site is home to the Constitutional Court, Women’s Gaol museum, Number Four museum, and the Old Fort museum.“The Hill, as it is fondly known, is an engine of growth and transformation for downtown Johannesburg and a place where residents and visitors can interact in a space that takes the country’s history forward in a respectful but progressive manner,” explains Petal Thring, the chief executive officer of Constitution Hill.A living museumIt is a living legacy of a very complex, tumultuous past going back to 1892, when the Old Fort was built by the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR), under president Paul Kruger. It was built as a prison, but for a brief period during the South African War, or Anglo Boer War, of 1899 to 1902, it served as a military defence post.In the late 1800s and early 20th century, new buildings were added to the fort-like prison. These included the Natives’ Section and isolation cells known as sections Four and Five, where black male prisoners were held, a Women’s Goal in 1907, and an Awaiting Trial building in the 1920s.Collectively, these buildings were known as the Fort, infamous for its brutal treatment of prisoners. Common criminals and ordinary men and women who had contravened colonial and apartheid legislation were imprisoned here in abhorrent conditions.Old FortBefore it took on its role as apartheid prison, the Old Fort was used to defend the ZAR capital, Pretoria. Kruger’s soldiers walked its ramparts in the war, until the British marched into town in 1900, and took over the structure.The ramparts were built to protect the ZAR from British invasion, as well as intimidate migrant miners and keep an eye on them as they crowded into the village in search of gold. Reverting to a prison after the war, initially only white male prisoners were held here, except for Nelson Mandela, who, before the Rivonia Trial in 1962, was given a bed in the hospital section.It is a living legacy of a very complex, tumultuous past going back to 1892, when the Old Fort was built by the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR), under president Paul Kruger. It was built as a prison, but for a brief period during the South African War, or Anglo Boer War, of 1899 to 1902, it served as a military defence post. (Image: www.constitutionhill.org.za)Women’s JailThe Women’s Jail was a charming, Victorian brick building. A space of such grace, yet it humiliated and brutalised its female prisoners, which included criminals and murderers, as well as anti-apartheid activists. The infamous murderess Daisy de Melker was held here, as were prominent political stalwarts such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and Fatima Meer. The women were particularly vulnerable. An information board in the museum today quotes political activist Barbara Hogan: “I could hear a doctor screaming at her saying, ‘You say your baby is sick, but if you cared about your baby, you would carry a pass.’”Number FourThe sign above the entrance to the Natives’ section, Number Four, is a quote from Mandela: “It is said that no one really knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.”Built to house 997 prisoners, it housed 2 200. Here, thousands of black men were imprisoned and brutalised; yet many survived and defied their jailors. Walking down a dark corridor on to a concrete courtyard on a drizzly, gloomy day gave a minute glimmer into what the prisoners must have felt when they arrived at the frightening Number Four. For many, this was their last journey. During the apartheid era, police would arrive numerous times a day with prisoners, who were given a prisoner number; this number was how they were identified.Detainees were strip-searched and hosed down, in summer or winter, and forced to perform the dehumanising “tausa”. This was a diabolical movement that allowed the prison warders to check whether the inmates were smuggling any weapons or contraband up their rectums. Political prisoner Indres Naidoo describes it: “When performing ‘tausa’ the naked person would leap in the air, spinning around and opening the legs wide while clapping his hands overhead and then in the same moment coming down, making clicking sounds with the mouth and bending his body forward so as to expose his open rectum to the warders’ inspection.”Bob Gosani, a photojournalist, secretly managed to photograph the “tausa” from the top floor of a nurses’ home overlooking the prison.Living conditions at Number Four were excruciating and barbaric. In the food area, where prisoners collected their food from trolleys before moving off to eat in the yard or cells, today food drums display the ghastly prisoners’ menus. African National Congress stalwart Joe Slovo describes the drums in his unfinished autobiography: “The first drum, marked ‘Congress One’, contained cooked chunks of beef or pork for white accused. The ‘Congress Two’ drum, for coloureds and Indian prisoners, contained either porridge or boiled vegetables on top of which floated a few pieces of fatty meat that were most probably from the discarded cut-offs from ‘Congress One’ drum. The ‘Congress Three’ drum (for black prisoners) was always meatless and the contents alternated between a plastic-textured porridge and a mixture of boiled mealies and beans.”There were only eight, eastern style toilets that offered no privacy and were in close proximity to the food area. Writer and political prisoner Alex La Guma wrote: “One of the reasons for my disease [typhoid] is found in this jail. Filth. The mats are filthy, the blankets are filthy, the latrines are filthy, the food is filthy, the utensils are filthy, and the convicts’ clothes are filthy. The latrines overflow and make a stench.”Showers were allowed once a week, but prisoners were often denied a wash for months. The allocated shower time was 30 minutes for the 2 000 prisoners, and the gang members took most of this time. The inmates would then be forced to use the toilet to wash their faces, or would rub soap on themselves and wait for it to rain.The communal cells housed between 60 and 70 prisoners; they were only built for 30 and as a result were overcrowded, dirty and badly ventilated. They were lit by a small window, but ironically, as authorities tried to break the spirit of the prisoners, these communal cells became an area to build courage and discuss resistance. The inmates gave each other strength and sang resistance songs to entertain, comfort and maintain solidarity.As if life inside was not harsh enough, made worse by the hostility of the prison wardens, there was also a hierarchy in the cells. You slept according to status: the gang leaders in the place of most comfort. The bod guards protected them and then the bush, or slaves, were near the toilet. It was a stinking space, where the slaves, the lowest in the cell food chain, were abused. These unsanitary conditions created perfect conditions for diseases, including typhoid and enteric fever.Emakhulukhuthu, an isiZulu word meaning the “deep dark hole”, was reserved for the harshest punishments. These were the isolation cells, where “lunatics, juveniles and those with infectious diseases” were kept. Prisoners here spent 23 hours a day inside, subsisting on a diet of rice water. “They could officially be held here for 30 days but some spent over a year in these cells,” states one of the information boards.Emakhulukhuthu, an isiZulu word meaning the “deep dark hole”, was reserved for the harshest punishments. These were the isolation cells, where “lunatics, juveniles and those with infectious diseases” were kept. (Image: www.constitutionhill.org.za) To pass the time, the inmates were creative and did blanket sculpting. At the end of each week, the prisoner with the most artistic blanket sculpture won a reward. “The conditions here were so depraved that when the prisoners were moved to Diepsloot Prison, known as Sun City, they said it was like moving to a hotel, and was utterly luxurious compared to the horrific conditions they had to previously endure,” said Thring.Number Four is now a stark museum and memorial to the thousands of men who were confined within its walls, deprived of the most rudimentary of human rights. Photographic, audio and video material captures the rich heritage of the site. Artefacts of prison life are also on display, including recreations of the blanket and soap sculptures. It remains as it was when it was closed in 1983.Jailed for fighting for freedomMahatma Gandhi was the first to apply the concept of non-violent civil disobedience in South Africa, against the racial segregation laws of the time. The exhibition in the Old Fort, “Gandhi: prisoner of conscience”, focuses on the years Gandhi spent in Johannesburg, from 1902 until 1914, when he left South Africa at the age of 46.Of his experiences in South Africa, he said: “Truly speaking, it was after I went to South Africa that I became what I am now. My love for South Africa and my concern for her problems are no less than for India.” Mandela is quoted on the walls of the exhibition: “The spirit of Gandhi may well be a key to human survival in the 21st century.”Mahatma Gandhi was the first to apply the concept of non-violent civil disobedience in South Africa, against the racial segregation laws of the time. The exhibition in the Old Fort, “Gandhi: prisoner of conscience”, focuses on the years Gandhi spent in Johannesburg, from 1902 until 1914, when he left South Africa at the age of 46. (Image: www.constitutionhill.org.za) Constitution Hill has witnessed it all: South Africa’s history of injustice, detention and imprisonment, as well as democracy at work. People who passed through the complex include Gandhi, Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Ahmed Kathrada, Treason trialists of the late 1950s, and students and schoolchildren from the 1976 Soweto uprising, as well as thousands of others active in the apartheid struggle, alongside common criminals.This multipurpose complex functions as a national symbol of a new South Africa and a public space where South Africans, and others, can debate and define the democratic order and this new world.last_img read more


California’s New Privacy Laws Stop Employers From Social Snooping

first_imgadam popescu Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img Tags:#privacy#security#social media California residents, take note: Those nosy bosses are no longer allowed to poke around on your Facebook profile or force you to open up a personal Twitter account.Say hello to California’s new social media law, which took effect January 1. The new regulations make significant changes to the way businesses treat social media. But while some benefits are clear, others are harder to define, and could lead to legal problems later.Technically an adjustment to the labor code, the Employer Use of Social Media law is an important step to creating a barrier between the work force and management, adding much-needed do’s and don’ts to previously nebulous territory. The new law specifically prohibits private and public employers from demanding usernames and passwords to access personal social media accounts or requiring an employee or applicant to show the contents of social media accounts to bosses.While this may frustrate some managers, the new law works to protect employees, mandating that employers cannot discipline in any way an existing or prospective employee for failing to comply to demands to view social media content. But the law does not prohibit employers from accessing information through employer-provided devices or on social media accounts. And there’s still some ambiguity surrounding allegations of account misuse, which can then give employers the green light to demand to see behind the curtain. It’s Not Black And WhiteThe main challenge to the law is ambiguity and enforcement, says San Diego-based Jim McNeill, a partner at the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge and a specialist in labor and employment relationships.The problem is the notion of misconduct, which the law broadly states can be a reason for accessing social media accounts, without giving a clear definition of what misconduct is. Misconduct can be interpreted on a case-by-case basis, so McNeill thinks this caveat will end up being decided in court. “If allegations against an employee were that they were engaging in going on the Internet and accessing their personal Facebook account on work time, would that suffice to allow the employer to demand access to the account?” McNeill asks. Another problem, he added, is the use of employer-owned devices and technology – especially when employees are not on the clock. If they’re accessing personal accounts via the company-owned smartphones or laptops, where is the line drawn between personal and private information?“The interesting part there is how that’s going to interact with employee access to a site with the employer’s device, off company time,” McNeill says. McNeill believes the law can help employees make smarter decisions about what they say on social media sites, because talking trash about an employer could count as misconduct and be grounds for employer eavesdropping. But its ambiguities make navigating this new law a possible trap within the legal system. Treating Social Media PersonasIn that vein, Heather Meeker, the vice president of corporate communications for free text and mobile service textPlus, still recommends not posting “anything online that you wouldn’t be comfortable having shared publicly.”Nick Cicero, the lead social strategist at Livefyre, a San Francisco-based commenting and social engagement platform, says one way to protect yourself is to have a “distinct separation of work and personal accounts.” But with our personal lives more and more entwined with our professional personas, that can be easier said than done – especially if you use social media as part of your job. “Unfortunately the evolution of online identity doesn’t always make this an easy black-and-white reality,” Cicero laments.One solution to help navigate this ambiguous new law is detailed intra-company social policies that clearly spell out do’s and don’ts. “Companies looking to have a handle on their employees’ social media activities should lay out a comprehensive social policy as to how employees should act online. That way there is an understanding between company and employee at all times,” Cicero explains. “We support openness and individualism.”But if you work in a company that’s less open-minded, you might want to double check just how individual and open you want to be. Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Related Posts last_img read more


Where ‘tribes’ of an ailing tea industry hold the key

first_imgDev Kanta Barooah, the Congress president during the Emergency, had no qualms about saying that the party depended on Ali-Coolie-Bangali for votes.Ali stood for migrant Muslims, Coolie – a British pejorative – for tea plantation workers and Bangali for migrant Bengali Hindus. Together, they are more than 60% of Assam’s 21,760,604 voters.The Congress received its first jolt in 1985 when the Asom Gana Parishad, riding on sentiments generated by the Assam agitation, secured votes of the indigenous communities, while the migrant Hindus and Muslims chose the now-defunct United Minorities Front.Plantation workers, casually referred to as “tea tribes”, brought from central India’s Chhotanagpur Plateau remained loyal to the Congress until most of them shifted allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014. That year, the BJP bagged four of the five Lok Sabha seats – Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Tezpur and Kaliabor – where the votes of the tea plantation workers matter.Tea plantation workers constitute 35-45% of the voters in these five seats where elections would be held in the first phase on April 11.A majority of the 800 tea estates and 65,000 small tea gardens are in the districts covered by the Dibrugarh and Jorhat parliamentary seats.“The liquor tragedy a month ago, the failure of the BJP government in granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to plantation workers, and non-revision of wages of tea workers will bring them back to the Congress,” Rupesh Gowala, general secretary of the Congress-affiliated Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, said.Illegal brewersBrothers Avinash, 10, Mahesh, 8, and Mangal Pujor, 5, lost their parents to toxic sulai (country spirit) that eventually claimed 159 lives at Halmira and Borhola tea estates in Golaghat and Jorhat districts on February 21. Currently lodged at a children’s home in Bokakhat near Kaziranga National Park, they want to go back home to the labour lines of Halmira.“Their orphanhood would not have been noticed had this tragedy not been on a large scale. Otherwise, liquor and various diseases have been killing labourers for ages,” said Bablu Bhumij, head of the labour section where 47 people died that day.“The Congress had tried to control drinking among tea workers but the pro-industrialists BJP relaxed norms for running liquor shops and became lenient toward illegal brewers. We intend to make Assam’s tea belts dry areas,” Pawan Singh Ghatowar, five-time MP from Dibrugarh, seeking to regain the seat from BJP’s Rameswar Teli, said.“The government was quick in taking action against illegal brewers. The Congress is making this an issue because they have nothing else to tell the people in the tea gardens since the people are happy with beneficiary schemes and cash incentives,” Mr. Teli, the BJP candidate, said.Both Mr. Ghatowar and Mr. Teli belong to the tea community.The top contenders for the Jorhat seat are State Minister Topon Kumar Gogoi of the BJP and Sushanta Borgohain of the Congress. The latter hopes to cash in on the perceived resentment among tea workers against the BJP for replacing incumbent Kamakhya Prasad Tassa, a tea community leader, with Mr Gogoi.Seeking ST statusOne of six communities seeking ST status, the “tea tribes” constitute about 20% of Assam’s 3.3 crore population. According to the Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, the community comprises 112 ethnic groups.But the Assam government submitted ethnographic reports of only 36 groups to the Union Tribal Ministry for granting ST status. “Leaving out the 76 groups will be an injustice,” a spokesperson of the association said.But the All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam has justified the government’s move. “The others cannot be included in the ST list as they enjoy the Scheduled Castes and OBC status. But yes, the government has to fast-track the case of the 36 groups,” its leader Stephen Lakra said. “The BJP government has advanced the process of granting ST status that the Congress sat upon for years. We will definitely take it to a logical conclusion if voted to power again,” Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP’s campaign strategist, said.Low wagesThe Congress and other opposition parties feel that incentives in cash and kind provided by the Sarbananda Sonowal government might impact the tea workers.“We are happy with the Rs 5,000 put in our bank accounts some time ago, but we would be happier with a higher daily wage,” Rabul Turi, a labour leader across a chain of estates in Golaghat district said.The current daily wage of a plantation worker in Assam is Rs 167. The minimum daily wage for tea workers in Rs 310 in Kerala, Rs 263 in Karnataka, and Rs 241 in Tamil Nadu, labour union leaders said.The newly-floated Adivasi National Party Assam, supporting independent candidates in Dibrugarh and Jorhat constituencies, has demanded payment of Rs 350 as proposed by the State advisory board for tea workers.Planters, though, say wages are already on the higher side. “Cheaper teas produced by Sri Lanka and Kenya have eaten into our markets. We cannot sell below a certain price as we have to factor in high wages, which comes to more than Rs 350 if free or subsidised rations, firewood allowance, housing, medical, free electricity and other benefits are taken into account,” a planter, declining to be quoted, said.last_img read more


World Cup schedule is not a problem for Virat

first_imgThe seemingly unending group stage of the upcoming World Cup has attracted some criticism from players like England’s Kevin Pietersen. But for Virat Kohli, the format is not a problem as it allows the teams to plan and comeback if there are any reversals.Virat Kohli”I feel the format now is better than before. Anyhow, it shouldn’t be a problem. When you are playing well, the format of a tournament shouldn’t matter. In this World Cup, all teams will have the chance to plan for every match and also stage a comeback if there any setbacks,” Virat said here on Thursday. “We are well prepared for the World Cup. Playing at home, there will be pressure but we will try to avoid all the outside pressures.”The one factor, though, which will weigh heavily on the minds of the players, would be the spate of injuries that has plagued Team India with just two weeks left for the mega event to begin. Virat, however, refused to brand it as a lapse in fitness management and said it was just a case of bad luck.”Injuries don’t happen intentionally. With the amount of cricket being played nowadays, injuries are bound to happen. Unfortunately, it happened to us at a very wrong time. Just unlucky for us. The injury management is not bad,” he said.The entire nation is hoping that luck would be on India’s side, more so for Sachin Tendulkar, who many feel would be playing his last World Cup. For Virat, a win would be a great gift for India and Sachin.advertisement”We need to win it for India and Sachin. What he has done on the field for the country, I don’t think anyone ever has or will ever be able to replicate. So it will be great if we can win not only for our fans but also for Sachin.”Virat will take the form of the ODI series in South Africa, where he was the most consistent Indian batsmen and seemed at ease on the pact wickets, to the World Cup. Even though the conditions would be vastly different, the Delhi batsman felt that he would have to make quick adjustments for the sub-continent wickets.”In South Africa, I just played on the merit of the ball. I didn’t make any special adjustments. It’s just that my upright stance and back-foot play helped me on those wickets. But coming to India, the wickets will be different and I will have to make quick adjustments,” the 22-year-old said.Decision reviewThe Indian team has not been a big fan of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) and captain MS Dhoni categorically said he didn’t have full faith in it. But now that the system has been enforced by the ICC for the World Cup, the Indians will have to adapt to it and Virat is confident that the hosts will not be caught off-guard while dealing with it.”We know how the system works. It is going to be the same for everyone and there is no advantage or disadvantage for anyone. Personally, I have no problem with it.”last_img read more