In the Congo Basin, a road cuts through once-untouched ape wilderness

first_imgThe TRIDOM landscape, encompassing forests in Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo, is home to more than 40,000 great apes as well as Central Africa’s largest elephant population.TRIDOM is in the path of a planned road link between Cameroon and Congo. Associated projects include a hydropower dam.While the project’s environmental impact assessment estimated only 750 hectares (1,850 acres) of woodland would be cleared for the road, on-the-ground observation of work in progress indicates the impact will be much greater.In addition to the direct impact of forest clearing, conservationists fear the road will increase habitat fragmentation, facilitate hunting and mining, and encourage human migration into the area — something that is already happening. DJOUM, Cameroon — “This right there used to be hell.” It’s early February 2019, deep in the tropical rainforest in southeastern Cameroon, the day after a night of heavy downpour. From his front porch, Jean Pierre Ondoua, a good-humored Baka Pygmy whom everyone calls JP (JEE-PAY), can see the weak glitter of the morning sun hitting the wet road. “Cars would line up here, unable to move. Timber trucks would topple over,” he says.Three years ago, the stretch of road passing through Ondoua’s front yard was little more than a dirt track, sculpted by the combined forces of rushing rainwater and daily beatings from galloping timber trucks. Apart from these trucks, few vehicles came by regularly except for old Toyota Corollas with tuned-up suspensions, which ferried people and supplies hundreds of kilometers to and from Sangmelima, the nearest city. When it rained, cars and travelers waited for days for the slippery mud to dry up. When it didn’t rain, a thick layer of the mud piled on the road, rendering it even more slippery.“It was hell, but things are different now,” Ondoua says, as the sun rises above a brush of towering trees in the distance.Jean-Pierre Ondua (left) and an elder at Ekom Village hope the road will transform their village. Image by Eugene N. Nforngwa for Mongabay.A brand-new highway, which will link Cameroon to the Republic of Congo by road for the first time, is replacing the old dirt track. After the overnight rain, the freshly poured patch of gravel and tar outside Ondoua’s home — a collection of mud huts nestled in the hillside — forms a pitch-black contrast against the green surroundings.Ondoua and thousands of villagers along the way have welcomed the change. But within the conservation community, the road is mostly viewed as a tragedy in progress: The new highway, more than 650 kilometers (400 miles) long, cuts right through the heart of one of the least disturbed forests of the Congo Basin, threatening biodiversity that has been tucked away from human reach for ages.By almost every account, the greatest risk is to a declining elephant population, along with tens of thousands of gorillas, chimpanzees and a host of other wildlife, some of which conservation workers suspect have never experienced human contact.last_img read more

Man charged for attempting to smuggle gold

first_imgA man appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Chief Magistrate Ann Mclenan to answer to the charge of being in possession of excess gold without an exporting License at the Eugene F Correia International Airport.Paul PersaudIt is alleged that Paul Persaud on February 5, 2016 at the Eugene F Correia International Airport was in possession of gold in excess of 15.5888 ounces of gold without being the holder of an export license. The court was told that the man had the gold in the form of jewelry.Persaud plead not guilty to the charge and was placed on a $100,000 bail.He will return to court on August 2.last_img

Genealogy talk set Feb. 24 at library

first_imgWHITTIER – Genealogy author Curt B. Wicher, manager of the historical genealogy department of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., will be the speaker at an all-day event Feb. 24 at the Greenleaf Masonic Temple, 7604 Greenleaf Ave. Wicher will discuss research techniques, using government documents, and the topic of Germans moving to Midwest United States. The cost is $30, plus $6 for lunch, if registration is made by Feb. 17. The cost at the door will be $35. For more information, or to register, call Barbara Wilks, (562) 696-5915, or John Hergesheimer, (562)941-3184. Rangers expand after-school classes MONTEBELLO – Woodcraft Rangers is expanding it’s after-school programs to elementary schools in the Montebello Unified School District. The programs will offer fun science, guitar classes, computer instruction, photography, drawing and painting. Funding for the programs is coming from Proposition 49, the initiative that enhanced the state’s investment in after-school programs. For more information, visit www.woodcraftrangers.org. Disaster training classes to be held LA MIRADA – La Mirada’s Community Emergency Response Team training program is now accepting registration for upcoming classes. The program prepares residents to help themselves, their families and neighbors during a major disaster. Residents learn basic life-saving skills, rescue techniques and more. For more information, call (562) 902-2960. Farm class aims to teach children LA MIRADA – A city class for children 1 to 6 years old will teach them about farm life. It will be held at 9a.m. Friday and at 9 a.m. Saturday. The classes will be held at the Aneheim Equestrian Center, 1370 S. Sanderson, Aneheim. There is a $60 dollar registration fee, plus a $15 material fee. To register, or for more information, call (562)943-7277. Food stamp help offered by county NORWALK – A representative from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services will assist residents applying for food stamps, from 1 to 3 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at the Norwalk Social Service Center, 11929 Alondra Blvd. For more information, call (562) 929-5544. Council changes meeting time LA HABRA – La Habra City Council meetings are now being held at 6:30 rather than 7:30 p.m. to facilitate public input and participation. Meetings are on the first and third Mondays of each month in the council’s chambers, 201 E. La Habra Blvd. Huntington to host camellia show SAN MARINO – More than 1,000 camellias will be on display at the 35th annual Camellia Show on Saturday and Sunday at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road. The event is co-sponsored by the Southern California Camellia Society. Hours for the show are 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Participants will display prize-winning blooms – the best, biggest and most beautiful specimens. For more information call (626) 405-2100, or visit www.huntington.org. – From staff reports160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Minnaert named coach of the month for March

first_img0Shares0000Fidelity Insurance marketing manager Nicholas Malesi (left) signing a cheque for AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert who was named coach of the month for March.PHOTO/SJAKNAIROBI, April 12- AFC Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert has been named the Fidelity Insurance /Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) coach of the month for March.The Belgian tactician becomes the second recipient of the award after Mathare United’s Francis Kimanzi bagged the maiden February gong. “I am happy to receive this award but I must say it has been because of the good work of the entire technical bench and players as well. I am sure SJAK will come back here many more times because we are going to do well this season,” Minnaert stated after receiving the award at the club’s training base in Nairobi.“It hasn’t been easy because we faced tough matches but we kept on working without giving up. This season the ultimate goal is to win the Kenyan Premier League title and I’m sure we have the ability,” he added.Minnaert, who joined Leopards mid February, had a splendid record in the month of March, leading Ingwe to the top of the SportPesa Premier League standings after picking ten out of a possible 12 points.Minnaert guided Leopards to victory over GOtv Shield champions Bandari FC, eternal rivals Gor Mahia and Kakamega Homeboyz while dropping points against a side that has always been a hard nut to crack for them, Chemelil Sugar.The coach received a unanimous vote from the SJAK football committee and beat off competition from Ulinzi Stars’ Robert Matano and Tusker FC’s Paul Nkata.Matano led Ulinzi to picking six out of a possible 12 points from three draws and one win while Nkata led Tusker to a seven out of nine points haul from two wins and a draw.With the award, Minnaert received Sh50, 000 and a trophy engraved with his name.Leopards sit third on the standings on 17 points, same as leaders Tusker FC and second placed Mathare United as the three sides are separated by goal difference.Minnaert is confident that he can guide the side to the Premier League crown this season after an 18-year wait.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Leicester succeed in appeal over Konchesky red card

first_img1 Leicester full-back Paul Konchesky’s red card against Aston Villa on Sunday has been rescinded.The 33-year-old was dismissed by referee Craig Pawson following a clash with Villa defender Alan Hutton in the Foxes’ 2-1 defeat at Villa Park.A Football Association statement read: “Leicester City’s Paul Konchesky, who was dismissed for violent conduct in the game against Aston Villa on December 7, 2014 will not serve a suspension after a claim of wrongful dismissal was upheld following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today.”Leicester manager Nigel Pearson appeared reluctant to appeal against the sending-off when he spoke about it in Sunday’s post-match press conference.”It’s difficult to have a decision like that rescinded in all honesty,” he said.”I think it would lack a bit of class for me to ask for retrospective action against another manager’s player.”When moments pass you by in games officials are there to do a job, to do it as best they can.”I can understand because of how it looked – it was because he was pushed away and they kept in contact. In the initial contact I don’t think Paul was the instigator.”It’s easy to be over critical. I don’t want to get into a debate about getting other players sent off.”However, the club took the decision to contest the three-match ban and it has now been successfully overturned, leaving Konchesky free to play, starting against Manchester City on Saturday. Leicester defender Paul Konchesky scraps with Aston Villa’s Alan Hutton last_img read more

Scots target record medal haul at 2018 Commonwealth Games

first_imgScotland are targeting a record medal haul at next year’s Commonwealth Games.According to the head of Team Scotland, athletes are gunning for a glittering 30 medals on the Gold Coast.Chef de Mission Jon Doig, speaking 12 months before the games get under way, said they are looking “for that best ever overseas performance”.“It is really exciting to celebrate one year to go until the next Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and to think that this time next year our team of around 220 athletes will be marching into the Carrara Stadium for the opening ceremony,” he said. The Gold Coast Games start on April 4, 2018, with around 220 athletes proudly flying the flag for Scotland.Joining them for the first time will be Scotland’s beach volleyball team.Despite having some of the finest white sandy beaches in the world, Scotland is not often viewed as a natural home of beach volleyball.Scottish Volleyball is thrilled to have the sport included on the programme for the very first time.Two new permanent courts have recently been installed at Portobello beach by Edinburgh Beach Volleyball Club.Leading the charge for Scotland is Lynne Beattie and partner and former British champion Melissa Coutts, both from Edinburgh.The duo have recently returned from a strong show of form in Sydney, Australia, where they recorded Scotland’s first win in the first round of a FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event.Beattie said: “Last year when the news came out that beach volleyball was being included in Gold Coast 2018, is when we really started to work hard.“Mel and I both work, so we have to fit in training sessions in the cold and dark or whatever the weather, but it is great to have this permanent facility here at Portobello.“We’ve set Gold Coast as our goal and we hope the win in Sydney last month is just the start of it. We’re going to play in as many events as we can this summer and try and qualify for the games.”Scottish Volleyball is thrilled to see the sport included. SNS GroupThe Commonwealth Games is currently the only multi-sport event in which Scots can compete under the saltire.Scotland has competed in every event since the first Empire Games in 1930 and has hosted the games three times – twice in Edinburgh 1970 and 1986 and most recently in Glasgow in 2014.The Glasgow games were Scotland’s most successfull, at home at Glasgow 2014, picking up 19 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze medals to finish fourth.Scotland’s most successful overseas games were in Melbourne in 2006 with 11 gold, seven silver and 11 bronze meals.Doig is determined to see the athletes beat their overseas record.He said: “Overall we are confident we will have a strong and highly motivated team and we are looking forward to what we are sure will be a fantastic games in Gold Coast next year.” “Scottish athletes from all the different sports love the opportunity to come together as Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games and we believe our strong team ethos plays a big part in the team’s overall success.”Scotland won 29 medals in Melbourne in 2006 and Doig hopes to eclipse that number. They won 53 medals at the home games in Glasgow in 2014.“We believe this is a realistic and ambitious target, given that there are largely the same sports as on the 2006 programme and at the same time of year,” he said.“We believe our plans are well on track and already we are seeing some exciting Scottish performances as athletes bid to meet the rigorous selection standards set at top six in the Commonwealth.”last_img read more

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel

first_imgShare This!This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel. Currently, the Universal Orlando Resort has four on-site hotels, with a fifth (Sapphire Falls) opening later this summer. Disney has three classifications for their resorts: Value (including Pop Century), Moderate (Port Orleans Riverside), and Deluxe (Contemporary). Universal also has three levels: Preferred (including Royal Pacific Resort), Prime Value (Cabana Bay Beach Resort), and Premier, which is where the Portofino Bay Hotel resides.Portofino Bay Punch – Bacardi superior, Bacardi ‘O’, banana liqueur, blackberry brandy, orange juice, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and a splash of Bacardi 151.First, a little backstory. Steven Spielberg can be considered one of the main “architects” of the entire Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Studios Florida, the park which started it all, was built on the back of films that Spielberg either directed (Jaws, E.T.) or was a producer on (Back to the Future, An American Tale, Twister, Transformers). While the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the current draw to Islands of Adventure, it’s Spielberg’s Jurassic Park that sits directly in the middle, and the iconic Jurassic Park visitor center is the first thing you see in the park when coming out of the Port of Entry. It’s only natural that when Universal was putting together Islands of Adventure back in the 1990s that they would pick Spielberg’s brain about ideas for the new onsite hotel they would also be developing.Spielberg’s suggestion was for the new hotel to be inspired by the classic feel of Portofino, Italy. Loews took that idea and ran with it, faithfully recreating a classic Mediterranean fishing village by the lagoon, as well as representing the luxury of many high end Italian hotels on the inside of the resort. Portofino Bay and its 750 rooms can be considered the flagship resort of Loews at Universal. Today we are going to look at several of the reasons we absolutely love Portofino, including what may be the best themed room in all of Orlando. So sit back, put on The Three Tenors as background music, and let’s begin our list with…# 6 – The PoolsA little while back we took a trip to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and fell in love with their Fuentes del Morro Pool. The Beach Pool at Portofino blows away the one at Caribbean Beach and joins the elite of Orlando pools including  Stormalong Bay at the Yacht & Beach Club, and the Nanea Volcano Pool at the Poly. There are a lot of activities surrounding the main pool, including a children’s water play area (complete with pirate ship), pool tables, ping pong, a giant checker board, a fantastic pool bar (with tons of seating and a great menu), two hot tubs, a sandy beach and more, The pool itself is an impressive fort-like structure you can walk around in, a grotto you can swim through, and a great slide. The Beach Pool at Portofino Bay.The grotto.Lounge chairs are everywhere.There are two other pools at Portofino, including the impressive Villa Pool. Located near the Beach Pool, this area includes even more lounge chairs, 16 cabanas, a hot tub and a plunge pool. Just a gorgeous area with maybe the best pool bathroom area in the entire state of Florida. The third pool is a true quiet pool and located on the other side of the resort.The Villa Pool, straight out of a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous magazine.Hot tub and plunge poolZero entry at the Beach Pool.Kid’s play area.Little pirates are going to love this ship.E-Ticket hot tub.For the first time ever, we rented a cabana at the Beach Pool during our stay and actually will rent again in the future. I always used to assume a cabana would be a waste of money, but it ended up being incredible. We rented it on our check in day and arrived at 11AM. Our room wasn’t ready so we just brought all of our bags over to the cabana and had plenty of room (you can also drop off your bags at Bell Service.) The cabana had several seats inside, a ceiling fan, and a flat screen TV along with a DVD player (about 50 movies were available to watch, all included with the price of the cabana.) The cabana came with a fruit and cheese plate along with your choice of six drinks. A cabana attendant also came by many times throughout the day to see if we needed anything or wanted to order from the pool bar. The cabanas start at $150 and will now be a staple of our Universal vacations on the first or last day of the trip as it made life so much easier.Fruit plate and six drinks of your choice come with the cabana rental.–# 5 – Portofino is Pet FriendlyFor those of you. like us, that have a four legged member of the family, Portofino Bay (along with the Hard Rock Hotel and the Royal Pacific) is pet friendly. Surrounding the resort are long walkways (and we mean long. runDisney people may want to check out the Portofino for relaxing runs) along with a large spaces for your pets to play in.Waste bags are available.Walking area.Walking area.–# 4 – BiCELike Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Flo, BiCE at the Portofino is more of a dining experience than a meal. Service across the board at Portofino is among the best you’ll find at any theme park resort, but the service at BiCE takes it up a notch. The servers are knowledgable, friendly, and are there before you know you need them. While Portofino is a great destination for families, it also is one of the best places for couples, with BiCE being the ultimate date night dinner. With an exquisite menu and an extensive wine list, you’re going to search long and hard to find a better place for a romantic meal. While the attire for BiCE is technically “business casual,” you’re not going to be run out of town wearing your theme park attire (unlike Victoria & Albert’s, where if you wear a t-shirt you’re immediately brought to the stockades in Liberty Square.) We’ve tried almost everything on the menu and there is almost nothing we wouldn’t recommend. Even the penne pasta with spicy tomato sauce was probably the best pasta dish I’ve had at any restaurant in the theme park corridor.BiCE.Located on the second floor, BiCE has a great view over the harbor.BiCE outdoor patio. (photo by Laurel Stewart)A walk past a selection of wines and into the main dining room of BiCE. (photo by Laurel Stewart)A Peroni sitting in front of theme park icon Len Testa. (photo by Laurel Stewart)Strip steak.Lamb or “Carre’ di Agnello all’ Olio di Tartufo arrosto servito con Funghi Misti salltati allo Speck e Purea di Patate” in BiCE speak. (photo by Laurel Stewart)This is why you don’t let vegans take pictures of food. Sitting behind this salad, which is only on the plate for decorative purposes, is a perfectly cooked piece of veal. (photo by Laurel Stewart)Don’t Forget Sal’s Market Deli or Mama Della’s Ristorante!Two other dining areas at Portofino are also worth checking out during your stay. Sal’s Market Deli is a quick service venue with one of the best pizzas on Universal property (and that includes the great tasting pies you’ll find at Red Oven Pizza Bakery and Vivo.) Mama Della’s Ristorante is a table service restaurant with solid Italian dishes and strolling musicians performing as you eat.Sal’s.Mama Della’s Ristorante. Note the different style of chairs at each table. (photo by Brandon Glover)–# 3 – Location, Location, LocationLike all the Universal Orlando resorts, Portofino is steps away – or a leisurely boat ride – from CityWalk, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Florida. While both the Royal Pacific and Hard Rock hotels are closer to the parks, being set back a little farther also makes Portofino much more immersive. When you are at the resort you don’t see or hear the parks at all (outside of Cinematic Spectacular fireworks.)Boat to adventure!–# 2 – AmbianceWith only 750 rooms, Portofino isn’t a sprawling resort, but when walking around the grounds it seems gigantic. Because it’s so large, guests are spread out and it never feels crowded. There are so many fantastic photo ops throughout the entire resort, but you’ll probably be drawn the wonderful harbor area where several of the restaurants are located (along with a Universal gift store, Starbucks, and other miscellaneous shops.) In a word, it’s beautiful and like my favorite WDW resorts like Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge, it always feels like you’re someplace special and not just a hotel.Vespa photo op sitting alongside the harbor.Pool fountain. While not confirmed, rumor is those four statues are paying tribute to four legendary theme park bloggers. Messers. Hill, Testa, Roseboom, and Kubersky.Piazza fountain.It’s just like being in Italy, just without all the smoking.Inside the main check in building at Portofino.Million dollar view.–# 1 – Despicable Me Kid’s SuiteIn general, at 450 sq feet and up, the guest rooms at Portofino Bay are even larger than your average room at a Disney Deluxe Resort. Many rooms have an outstanding view of the harbor, a few with balconies. But we’re here to talk about THE room. As a family who loves Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, we’ve been looking forward to checking out the Despicable Me Kid’s Suite at Portofino Bay from the day it was announced. Would it deliver? Well, let’s check it out.One of the only negatives we have with the Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo suites at AOA is that the master bedroom – where the adults sleep – is seperated from the rest of the room, giving kid’s access to the hotel door. Universal’s kid’s suites are the complete opposite, with the adult bedroom having the only access to the room’s entrance. The door to the kid’s area only opens into the adult’s room. The adult’s bedroom is gorgeous, with a king size bed, a love seat, a sitting area, and a bathroom that may be larger than my first apartment. “Look at all this floor space. So many activities!”Adult’s room.The door to the children’s area is themed so well that the kids loved slamming the door and pretending they were Gru from Despicable Me. There is even a spinning wheel like you would see on some old timey bank vault. When we opened the door, the pictures just do not prepare you for how large everything is. The bomb beds are much bigger than a regular twin, and the kids loved playing in, around, and on top of them. Gru’s scarf as an accent on the bed was a great touch, with the chair and lighting fixtures in the room seemingly straight from the movie. You know you’ve hit a home run when the kids need to say goodbye to the room when we checked out and added, “we love you.”Door opens to reveal..Bomb bed.Gru’s scarf at the bottom of the bed.The Minion “mat” at the front of the door is another great touch.Despicable Me chair.Edison bulb lighting fixture.Despicable Me Kid’s Suite.–HONORABLE MENTION – Bocce Ball CourtI have absolutely no idea what Bocce Ball is, and after reading the rules for the game I think I may actually understand it  less than I did before. However, thanks to Portofino’s blessing of size (© Walt Disney) they have a Bocce Ball area near the Villa Pool.Portofino Bocce Ball court.A DVC contract has less rules.So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel. Again, I can’t stress how amazing the service was across the board at the resort. Everyone in the pool area was attentive. Check in was fast and easy. Housekeeping was terrific. A special shout out to Amanda and Anthony as two shining stars in the Loews team. Couldn’t have had a better time. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)Wait, is she shooting that picture in PORTRAIT?! That is a huge Blogger Etiquette offense!If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Royal Pacific ResortUniversal Dining: Emeril’s Tchoup Chop Universal Dining: Wok Experience at Islands Dining RoomOur Six Favorite Jokes in Universal’s Springfield USA.Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, crazy cat lady Laurel Stewart, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey. FINAL PLUG! Did you know The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now! (For every copy sold, a percentage of the profits* go towards buying a DVD of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rap video.)Hard to play the DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM card when they spell your name wrong.last_img read more

Black Sash making its mark for 60 years

first_imgFor more than half-a-century, the Black Sash has been helping people in tangible concrete ways realise their human rights. Formed in response to the discrimination practised by the apartheid government, today it still works to assist the downtrodden. Black Sash, the initiative that started in 1955 to fight against the government’s apartheid laws, are now for example helping people who have fraudulent deductions for loan repayments and airtime taken from their grants. (Image: Screen grab via YouTube) Melissa JavanHelping people who rely on social grants who have fraudulent deductions for loan repayments and airtime taken from their grants, is just one of the things the Black Sash has been doing over the past few years to relieve the pressure of poverty.In May, this initiative – known for its vision to make human rights real – celebrates 60 years of existence. On 19 May 1955, six women decided to take political action against the packing of the Senate to disenfranchise coloured voters; it was to be foundational to the establishment of the Black Sash.According to the organisation, the women who started this initiative continued to making their voices heard by organising peaceful marches, handing over petitions and helping a number of South Africans who were affected by apartheid laws.“They were also part of a group of women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 against pass laws, on what is now known as Women’s Day,” says the Black Sash. “The group was initially called The Women’s Defence of the Constitution League and later nicknamed the Black Sash by the media, because of the black sashes they wore to marches.”It was not an easy road for them. News reports speak of the negative feedback from the public. They were often taunted as vuilgoed (rubbish) and lighted cigarettes were thrown at them. In Worcester, in the Cape, a man confronted the women, saying: “We would like to push you into the sea.”But they also had some support: they were greeted by V for Victory signs, thumbs-up salutes and warm congratulations for their activism.The seed they plantedThe Black Sash embarked on campaigns against the erosion of civil liberties and racial segregation. “They also set up a bail fund in 1958 to assist people arrested for contraventions of the pass laws. Soon afterwards, the first Black Sash advice office opened in Cape Town, offering free paralegal advice and support.“The following 20 years were difficult as political movements were driven underground or into exile. Through this period the women of the Black Sash stood in silent protest with their placards, provided advice services, researched laws, followed parliamentary debates, wrote articles, took statements, monitored and recorded meetings, and kept and published lists of those victimised by the apartheid government,” the organisation says.“We continue to work to realise the rights of the most vulnerable, with an emphasis on women and children. In partnership with civil society organisations across the country, we work in three programmes: rights-based information, education and training; community monitoring; and advocacy in partnership.”Elroy Paulus, the national advocacy manager, said that until 2011 the Black Sash offered one-to-one advice-giving as a service. While this service is no longer an option, there is a helpline through which members of the public can ask a Black Sash paralegal anything relating to their rights. “We work with approximately 400 community based-organisations [and] non-governmental organisations, many being advice offices,” he explained.Much needed to be doneWhile apartheid may be over, there is still a need for the Black Sash. Lynette Maart, the national director, said: “The challenges facing South Africa are inequality and extreme poverty, a footprint left by apartheid and globalisation which will not be changed quickly.“While we acknowledge that we have a good Constitution, it is in part a promise that does not always translate into human rights on the ground, and we need to remain mindful that there is still a lot of work to be done.”She gave an example of one of the group’s achievements: she and a colleague were on a farm in Franschhoek to witness the repayment of funeral cover instalments deducted fraudulently from the accounts of several social grant beneficiaries.The Black Sash had exposed fraud and misrepresentation of South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). “To date, the Paarl Advice Office has uncovered 43 cases in Franschhoek alone,” Maart said.“The Black Sash and our community based-organisations [CBO] partners have witnessed many other unauthorised, illegal, fraudulent and immoral debit deductions from the Sassa branded bank accounts – including [for] water and prescribed debt.”Prescribed debt is debt that is older than three years. In terms of South African law, a debt prescribes – meaning it falls away or expires – after three years.In March this year, the Constitutional Court ordered Sassa to implement a timetable for the new tender for payment of social grants nationally in October 2015, Maart said.“We hope that the South African Reserve Bank serves on the new Sassa Tender Bid Committee to ensure that proposals from prospective bidders technically and systemically prohibit any EFT, stop or debit order deductions from ring-fenced bank accounts and block the trade of personal confidential data, including biometric data and cellphone numbers.”FestivitiesWhile the hard work to make human rights real continues, the Black Sash did spend time celebrating its 60th year.On 16 May, Standing on Street Corners: A History of the Natal Midlands Region of the Black Sash, by Mary Kleinenberg and Christopher Merrett, was launched in Pietermaritzburg.On 19 May, the book Sheena Duncan was launched in Cape Town.On 23 May, a gathering was held for Gauteng colleagues at the Women’s Jail Atrium on Constitution Hill. Sheena Duncan was launched in the region and there was a panel discussion.About Sheena DuncanDuncan was an anti-apartheid activist and counsellor. She was the daughter of Jean Sinclair, one of the co-founders of the Black Sash, and joined the organisation in 1978. She played a significant role in the group and was involved in recruiting members for resistance movements.The book Sheena Duncan was written by her colleague and friend, Annemarie Hendrikz, while Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrote the introduction. The online news portal IOL reports that Tutu, speaking at the launch, said he thought God was proud of Duncan. “I think God was glad God made Sheena Duncan. He rubbed his hands together and said, ‘Now there’s something.’”She died in 2010.The Black Sash National Helpline, 072 66 33 739 or help@blacksash.org.za, is a free national information, advice and referral service.Watch the history of the Black Sash and how these women made an impact:last_img read more

What’s going on with Google brand CPC?

first_img Posted on 3rd February 2018Digital Marketing FacebookshareTwittertweetGoogle+share HomeDigital MarketingWhat’s going on with Google brand CPC? What’s going on with Google brand CPC?You are here: In Q1 and Q2 of 2017, Merkle (my employer) reported on a positive trend for advertisers that showed a decline in brand cost per click (CPC) year over year. The CPC of brand terms is often determined by Google’s algorithm as opposed to the competitive landscape, so brands are often left to Google’s mercy in determining the price paid for this traffic.In the case of the mid-2017 decline, it seems advertisers were benefiting from Google’s May ad rank change, which appeared to reduce first-page and top-of-page minimum bids in the search results. However, despite a continued decline in minimum bid estimates, brand CPC rebounded sharply in Q4.What gives?[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]From our sponsors: What’s going on with Google brand CPC? Related postsLytics now integrates with Google Marketing Platform to enable customer data-informed campaigns14th December 2019The California Consumer Privacy Act goes live in a few short weeks — Are you ready?14th December 2019ML 2019121313th December 2019Global email benchmark report finds email isn’t dead – it’s essential13th December 20192019 benchmark report: brand vs. non-brand traffic in Google Shopping12th December 2019Keep your LinkedIn advertising strategy focused in 202012th December 2019last_img read more