Female ICT pioneers visit the US

first_imgJanine ErasmusTwelve of South Africa’s most enterprising women in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) will soon be heading to the United States to attend a professional development course, courtesy of the Maxum Business Incubator near Pretoria. The US trip forms part of a broader two-year mentoring programme initiated by Maxum.From computer animation to e-commerce in the wine industry to managing donor funding, each woman has incorporated ICT into her business model, whether it is the focus of the business or is an integral part of the running of the business. There are even two hardware suppliers who, says Maxum manager Dr Jill Sawers, do not offer as much in the line of innovation as some of the others but are delivering essential services to their communities and deserve help in working out logistical problems.Additionally, there are four finalists in the category of aspiring entrepreneur. These are women who are nurturing an idea but have not yet implemented it, or who need assistance with the fine-tuning of, for instance, their business model or target market. Their ideas encompass e-learning, web design, online ticketing and general computer services.The visit to the US is managed by the Meridian International Centre, which promotes international understanding through the exchange of people, ideas, and the arts. It is also hoped that the mentoring programme as a whole will promote long-term collaboration between South African and American women business entrepreneurs, companies and incubators. Says Sawers, “The women that we are currently working with are all energetic and fired up. They’re ready to go out and make a difference.”The Maxum Business Incubator provides a nurturing environment for emerging businesses from sectors such as ICT and biosciences to grow and develop during the vulnerable start-up phase. It is based at Africa’s first internationally accredited science park, the Innovation Hub in Tshwane.Maxum is sending the successful applicants to the US at the end of March 2008, under the sponsorship of the Office of Citizen Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State.The entrepreneurs will receive tutoring at the Meridian International Centre in Washington, DC, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Centre for Women and Information Technology (CWIT) in partnership with Maryland Women in Technology (MDWIT). They will also engage with women business professionals in their relevant fields of expertise and will take part in meetings and discussions relating to women in business.Entrepreneurs from all over South AfricaSixty-one applications came in from all around South Africa, the greater proportion of them from the Western Cape (WC). Maxum drew up a shortlist of 19 before the final dozen were selected. Says Sawers, “We have six from the Western Cape, four from Gauteng, one from Bloemfontein and one from Kimberley.” Initially the plan was to support ten women but fortunately funding allowed for the inclusion of two more.With Gauteng touted by its provincial government as the business centre of Africa, it is perhaps to be expected that most of the applicants would hail from this region but, says Sawers, there are a few interesting factors to be taken into consideration.“In the Western Cape 80% of SMEs [small to medium enterprises] are in the ICT field, while in Gauteng the figure is 98%,” she says. “However, while only around 2% of those contribute meaningfully to the GDP in Gauteng, the percentage is higher in the Western Cape. This says to us that entrepreneurs in the Cape are more active and involved.“Additionally, in Gauteng the ICT sector is dominated by large companies and we find that entrepreneurs tend to partner with them or with the government rather than strike out on their own.”Sawers adds that a further factor was the apparent greater efficiency of channels of information in the Cape compared to those in Gauteng. “There is good networking in the Western Cape, and our call for applications reached the target audience better.”The mentoring programme, which is expected to take about two years from start to finish, while the US leg runs from 29 March to 19 April 2008, is designed to instil confidence and equip the women with the competence and skills to successfully start or grow their businesses, aided by South African business incubators such as Maxum. “Our aim is to encourage entrepreneurship,” says Sawers. “We particularly look for innovation because this will stimulate the sector.”Each application was considered individually and finalists were selected on their own merits. “We chose our finalists not only for their entrepreneurial prowess but also for other essential qualities such as their leadership abilities. We want them to come out of this programme and be role models for other women.”In order to ensure that candidates successfully go on to fulfil their potential and make the most of the skills that they have developed, they will receive ongoing mentorship on their return as part of the programme. “In Cape Town we will work with CITI [Cape Information Technology Initiative] and with the Innovation Hub here in Gauteng,” explains Sawers. ”Mentorship will mostly take the form of peer learning, where groups of entrepreneurs will come together and those who are strong in certain areas will share their knowledge with others. We are also looking for high-profile role models locally to interact with our candidates and inspire them.”CITI has already confirmed that they will come on board for a six-month period. A further requirement from Maxum is an annual project report, to be submitted for two additional years.International co-operationThe mentoring programme kicks off with the US trip, where the entrepreneurs will undergo a specially developed entrepreneurial and technology skills-based training course at UMBC’s CWIT. The course will focus on practical aspects of starting and growing a business, such as developing a business plan and a marketing strategy, managing business finances, human resources and operations, obtaining venture capital, and enhancing competitiveness through the effective use of technology. Dealing with clients, business leadership, and the development of a personal model for a work-life balance will also be addressed.Knowledge sharing will take place during a series of roundtable meetings, panel discussions and networking events that have been arranged with US public and private sector organisations that promote women in business, as well as women’s business associations. Successful women entrepreneurs will also be on hand to impart their wisdom, and the South African contingent will shadow their American counterparts in their specific fields for two days.Site visits to local business incubators have been organised, as well as visits to historical and cultural sites in Washington and Baltimore.In addition, the South African entrepreneurs will be coached in the preparation of “action plans” for their existing or prospective businesses. These are to be implemented by the participants upon their return to South Africa.However, the guidance and development does not stop at the passport control desk. They will also receive ongoing support from the American business professionals with whom they met during their visit to the US. The intention is for these same professionals to travel to South Africa around September to render hands-on assistance and to monitor progress.Others will benefit through a series of seminars held in association with Maxum across South Africa for a wider audience of women, especially those from previously disenfranchised backgrounds. This will also allow those applicants who did not make the final cut to still gain exposure to valuable knowledge and guidance.Helping the entrepreneurs of tomorrowThe Innovation Hub developed the Maxum Business Incubator with a view to ensuring the success of the entrepreneurs and business leaders of tomorrow. The incubation programme provides a fast track environment wherein selected individuals are assisted in essential aspects to get their businesses up and running and financially viable within two to three years. The mentoring programme is just one of the platforms through which Maxum assists entrepreneurs.Incubator participants are able to rent space for their businesses and are provided with as much support as they need in the form of telephones, data storage and internet and e-mail access, a receptionist, advice from business and legal professionals, meeting and catering facilities, and facilitated access to funds. Here they can engage with fellow participants, sharing knowledge and creating partnerships. At the same time they are able to network with established companies through events such as seminars and power breakfasts organised by the Innovation Hub.The Innovation Hub is an internationally accredited science park and is a member of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP). A science park is defined as “an organisation managed by specialised professionals, whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions.“To enable these goals to be met, a science park stimulates and manages the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets; it facilitates the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes; and provides other value-added services together with high quality space and facilities”. [IASP International Board, 6 February 2002]Links:The Innovation HubMeridian International CentreInternational Association of Science ParksCentre for Women and Information TechnologyMaryland Women in Technologylast_img read more

Behind the Scenes: My Travel Bug®’s Mission to Space

first_img SharePrint RelatedTrack a Travel Bug in SpaceOctober 20, 2013In “Community”The First Geocaching First-to-Find in SpaceNovember 18, 2013In “Community”Geocaching in Space – Q&A with Astronaut Rick MastracchioFebruary 10, 2014In “Community” Guest Blog Post By Robert Cizaukas (Username: Cizzors)The students from Waterbury’s Chase Elementary School, the same school Astronaut Rick Mastracchio’s graduated from.This journey all began on August 29, 2013. I read a story in the Waterbury Republican American Newspaper titled, “Waterbury native to spend 6 months out of this world”. It was an interesting story about a Waterbury Public School graduate, Rick Mastracchio (Username: AstroRM) who had become an astronaut and was headed to the International Space Station (ISS) in November 2013. I had never met Mr. Mastracchio, but had previously read about his accomplishments. Later that day, I was out geocaching with my brother-in-law, Tony Jannetty (Username: DavidPuddy) working on the 31 Days of Geocaching streak when the newspaper article about Mastracchio came up in conversation. We had previously talked at length about the ISS geocache and the Travel Bug® that had been there. Tony said that he had an idea that he thought I should pursue: If I could get Mastracchio to take a Travel Bug up to the ISS,  it could be an inspirational and educational opportunity for the children of Waterbury – a once in a life time experience with space travel and geography. We brainstormed what the program would look like and how we would find a way to contact Mastracchio to pitch the idea to him.Robert Cizauskas, aka Cizzors.I had a lot of interest. I was born and raised in Waterbury, Connecticut and graduated from the public school system. Waterbury is a city that faces many of the same problems that other urban areas around the United States experience, including in its public school system. As a City of Waterbury Police Officer, I have the opportunity to currently serve as the Lieutenant in charge of the Waterbury Police Activity League (PAL). Waterbury PAL is a nonprofit organization run by police officers designed to promote partnerships between law enforcement, the community and youth through educational, recreational and athletic activities. I have used geocaching as an interesting way to engage the at-risk youth that we service.To get in touch with Mastracchio, I began to doing online research and asked around. Through a co-worker that had gone to school with a relative of Mastracchio, I was able to get in contact with him. Mastracchio was interested in finding a new way to engage children in his mission and  began emailing me directly with questions about geocaching and Travel Bugs. Finally, Mastracchio informed me that he would take the Travel Bug with him to the ISS. Mastracchio was excited to use this Travel Bug as an educational tool and had many of his own ideas on how to make this project even more exciting for the children participating in the project. I had originally planned to work with Waterbury’s Chase Elementary School on this project because Mastracchio had graduated from this elementary school and I thought this could be a truly inspirational project for the children of that school to know that through hard work anything is possible. I activated the Travel Bug (TB5JJN1) and took it to the school for pictures with the kids. I explained the project to the children and teachers and, shortly after, sent the Travel Bug to Mastracchio.Mastracchio came up with an idea of adding 11 hitchhiker tags labeled “Exp 38” to represent Expedition 38, the mission that he was taking the Travel Bug® on. Mastracchio wanted to add 10 additional schools and give each school a hitchhiker from the Travel Bug® that had been to the ISS. I contacted additional schools about the project and visited classrooms to explain what we were planning. All of the schools quickly signed on to be part of this once in a lifetime experience.The Expedition 38 crew. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio is third from the left in the back row.To make this an interactive experience for the children involved, Mastracchio took pictures of the Travel Bug® along the way and posted them online for the students involved to see where the Travel Bug® had traveled and to engage them in classroom discussions about the locations and significance to space travel. Students have also been posting their own pictures and questions on the Travel Bug page. Mastracchio took the time to view the page and answer questions about NASA, Space Travel, and the ISS. Mastracchio is scheduled to launch from Russia on November 6, 2013 at approximately 11 pm ET, and I expect all of the excitement related to this project to continue for the entire six months that he is on the ISS.Geocaching has decided to award a souvenir to anyone that attends a Geocaching in Space event on November 6th or 7th. I setup the first of over 500 Geocaching in Space Events around the world in Waterbury (GC4PEVR). These events will be an excellent way to celebrate the launch of Mastracchio and the Travel Bug®. Mastracchio commented that all of the attention the expedition was getting  from geocachers is “incredible”.The International Space Station Travel Bug II (TB5JJN1), by the 5th Grade Class of Chase Elementary School-Waterbury, CTAn amazing and unexpected part of this project has been the notes that geocachers from around the world have posted to Mastracchio and the students on the Travel Bug® page. The students involved have been reading these posts regularly in their classrooms and have been learning about each country the geocachers are from. Many of the posts are in languages other than English, which is offering additional learning opportunities for the students as they decipher what is posted. The teachers and students have embraced this project, making cards, posters and pictures that we have posted to the Travel Bug® page for everyone to see.From the very beginning, Tony and I envisioned that this project would be an educational opportunity for one urban school of children to learn that, through hard work and dedication, anything can be accomplished, like Mastracchio has proven. Mastracchio will use the Travel Bug® to teach the students about what he does, so it might inspire some young person to strive for something he or she never expected they might be capable of. This Travel Bug® project continues to exceed our expectations as more and more countries from around the world become involved. I am very thankful to Mastracchio, Geocaching HQ, Tony, the Waterbury Public School System, and geocachers around the world for supporting this educational effort. Everyone involved is elated in anticipation of this Travel Bug® launching to the ISS, and are extremely excited to see this epic geocaching adventure unfold.See you on the trails……Cizzors.Get Involved!Follow Rick Mastracchio on TwitterAttend a Geocaching in Space Event (Events vary between November 6 and November 7 depending on your global location)Leave a message of support for Rick Mastracchio and to the students in Connecticut on the Travel Bug page – and read messages between the two.  Want to know more? Check out the Geocaching in Space FAQ and  Geocaching into Space Event Center.Any other questions or comments? Ask away in the comments below!Share with your Friends:Morelast_img read more

Efforts to Ban Gas Hookups in New Construction Widen

first_imgA campaign to lower carbon emissions by prohibiting fossil fuels connections in new buildings has moved to the East Coast. In mid-November, a town just outside Boston became the first in Massachusetts to ban oil and gas installation in new buildings as citizens there joined a number of California communities that have already enacted similar bylaws. There were only 3 votes against the proposal at a town meeting in Brookline, Massachusetts, The Boston Globe reported, as the community of roughly 58,000 voted to tackle climate change by requiring new homes to run on electricity alone.RELATED ARTICLESCarbon Emissions By the Construction IndustryAnother Look at Embodied CarbonBill to Cut New York City Carbon Emissions: $20 BillionReducing Carbon Emissions From Cars and Trucks Will Be HardEmbodied Carbon Emissions in Buildings The measure, which must still be approved by the state attorney general’s office, was opposed by oil and gas interests, real estate developers, and others. It affects both new construction and major renovations. “Prohibiting Brookline residents from choosing an affordable, reliable, and entirely legal heating fuel like natural gas or bioheat is outrageously unfair,” Stephen Dodge, executive director of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council, a trade association for the gas and oil industry, told the Globe. “If cities and towns can start trying to outlaw utilities licensed by the state Department of Public Utilities from serving willing customers who want to buy energy from them, we’re heading toward regulatory and legal chaos.” The real estate industry fears the measure would increase construction costs for new buildings and make utility expenses higher for homeowners. A court challenge is expected. Berkeley, California, became the first community in the country to take this step with a vote in July. More than a dozen other California communities have since followed suit. Proponents argue that every house and high-rise built today will be in place for decades, and so will the fossil fuel infrastructure unless steps are taken to convert buildings to fuels that are less damaging to the environment. USA Today reports that some 35% of U.S. households have gas stoves. The American Gas Association, a trade group representing more than 200 local gas companies, says an average of one new gas customer is added every minute. The fossil fuel bans that have been approved so far differ in some of the details. In Brookline, the measure allows exemptions for restaurants, medical labs, and other buildings when there are no realistic alternatives to burning fossil fuels, the Globe said. Waivers also could be considered by a new town board. Tamara C. Small, CEO of a trade group for the commercial real estate industry, said in a letter to the Brookline Planning Board that it was important not to hinder construction of new housing, or make it any more expensive for town residents. She also noted the region’s electricity grid relies mainly on natural gas, so the environmental benefits from the ban on new gas and oil hookups in buildings may be a while in coming. Climate chaos ahead without cuts, UN says Brookline’s initiative may seem trivial or disruptive to its critics, but supporters see efforts to phase out the use of fossil fuels as an urgently needed step. And scientists warn that efforts to cut carbon emissions to date have not been nearly enough to prevent catastrophic climate change. In a new report, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said measurements of several greenhouse gases showed above average emissions in 2018 as CO2 levels reached an all time high. The gap between lower emissions targets adopted by many industrialized countries and what’s actually being dumped into the atmosphere are “glaring and growing,” The Guardian reported. Scientists warn that emissions must be cut by half by 2030 if the global temperature rise is to be limited to 1.5°C, the point beyond which climate change will be disastrous. That now seems unlikely to happen, WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas told the newspaper. “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change,” Taalas said. “We need to increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind.” He added that the last time Earth had seen a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was between 3 million and 5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea levels were between 10 and 20 meters higher. The WMO report published on November 25 said the global average concentration of CO2 was 407.8 parts per million in 2018, an increase from 405.5 ppm the year before. Averages are now 50% higher than they were before the industrial revolution began in the mid 18th century. John Sauven, head of Greenpeace UK, told The Guardian: “The number is the closest thing to a real-world Doomsday Clock, and it’s pushing us ever closer to midnight. Our ability to preserve civilization as we know it, avert the mass extinction of species, and leave a healthy planet to our children depend on us urgently stopping the clock.” -Scott Gibson is a contributing writer at Green Building Advisor and Fine Homebuilding magazine.last_img read more

No words needed–moment of silence

first_imgI struggle each year to find words to articulate the awe and heartfelt appreciation to those who sacrificed self, to the families of fallen service members, and to past and current military families who continue to adept and stay resilient. There have never been the words to adequately describe the sacrifice made or the emotion of gratitude for the selfless service.All of us though can take a moment of silence to honor those who have fallen.Wherever you are on Monday, May 27 At 3 PM (local time), please stop, and in your own way, have a moment of silence with thought or prayer for those who have fallen and other sacrifices made by veterans, service members, and their families. This post was written by Anne Adrian, Social Media Strategist with the Military Families Learning Network.last_img read more

Maharashtra releases Koyna water to crisis-hit Karnataka

first_imgPune: The Maharashtra government on Sunday released water from the Koyna dam in Satara district to alleviate the water crisis in Karnataka. Around 0.5 TMC water will be released over a 10-day period, authorities have said. Water level in the Kaveri river basin has plummeted due to the soaring temperature.This is the second such discharge from the Koyna reservoir to Karnataka. Last month, 2.5 TMC water was released from the reservoir following a high-level meeting between officials of the neighbouring States.This cumulative discharge of 3 TMC follows a direct appeal on part of Karnataka Water Resources Minister M. B. Patil to provide relief to Belagavi, Bagalkot and Vijaypura districts. In return, Karnataka will release water from the Almatti dam to cater to the needs of Solapur district and others parts in Maharashtra facing water shortage.Late last month, Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan had said nine of the 12 dams in Karnataka barely had 20% of their water stock. “The available live storage in the reservoirs has touched an all-time low,” Mr. Mahajan had said, adding that he had ordered the discharge from Koyna dam to bring immediate relief to farmers in Karnataka.With a storage capacity of 105 TMC, the Koyna reservoir is one of the largest dams in the State. It houses the massive Koyna hydropower generation plant.Three consecutive years of drought have aggravated the agrarian crisis in Karnataka, especially in the north.last_img read more

Kolkata collapse: more residents shifted out

first_imgAs residents from more houses were evacuated in Kolkata’s Bowbazar area on Thursday, city’s mayor Firhad Hakim said that reconstruction and removal of debris of houses in the affected area will start only after the Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Limited (KMRCL) provides a soil stability certificate. Over 350 residents from Durga Pituary Lane and Sakrapara Lane have already been provided alternative accommodation. Almost half a dozen houses collapsed in the area after the tunnel boring work of East West Metro Corridor hit a water reservoir on Sunday, leading to water seepage and ground subsidence. “The KMRCL will have to give a certification from a recognised organisation that the ground is no longer collapsing. Only then will the KMC [Kolkata Municipal Corporation] give the permission for removing the debris and repairing the damage,” Mr. Hakim said.Among those affected due to the metro work was Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Tapas Roy, who had to leave his apartment in the neighbourhood on Thursday and take refuge in a government accommodation. The KMRCL, in a press statement, said it will release ₹5 lakh to each family which had to evacuate the area suddenly. The metro authorities also assured that they would reconstruct the buildings that have collapsed or suffered damage. The KMRCL will bear the boarding and lodging expenses of the people who have been shifted from their homes and attempts are being made so that they can be provide them alternative accommodations. International experts The KMRCL has also sought the help of international experts like Pual Virell from South Africa, who was the lead engineer for the tunnel under the Hooghly, and Guy Bridges from Hong Kong, a renowned tunnelling engineer. Experts like John Endicott from Singapore and Kiril Shramko, a grouting expert from Russia, are among others who are helping the KMRCL in damage control.last_img read more

Explore the land of the long white cloud

first_imgThe country’s canopy of blue, with the cleanest of air never fails to surpriseNew Zealand Tourism and the movies have done a mighty fine job. The country has had ad campaign tag lines that tell you that it is the youngest country on Earth and that everything there is “100,The country’s canopy of blue, with the cleanest of air never fails to surpriseNew Zealand Tourism and the movies have done a mighty fine job. The country has had ad campaign tag lines that tell you that it is the youngest country on Earth and that everything there is “100 per cent Pure”. Find these campaigns on You Tube and you will hit a travel agent with your credit card at 100 paces. Then there’s Hrithik Roshan with his “Kaho Naa…” song sequences and bike riding which made New Zealand Bollywood’s 21st century Switzerland. Peter Jackson gave the West its Middle Earth and the habitat of hobbits by setting up his Lord of the Ring trilogy in the country of his birth, while New Zealand’s Southern Alps did a very good impersonation of K2 for Vertical Limit.Not to forget bungee jumping and jogging, two Kiwi inventions that went viral around the world well before the word viral left a laboratory. New Zealand is a country the size of England with a population of under five million, so they have plenty rooms at the inn.The quick trip around New Zealand ‘highlights’ would include a stop over in the City of Sails, Auckland, a visit to the hot springs near Lake Rotorua and the Maori experience in Tamaki. A short ferry ride across the two islands via Picton. A stop over in Christchurch as a hop on the journey to Queenstown and the whole Southern Alps or Lord of the Rings or Milford Sound experience. It also has a large number of hot springs, known as waiariki in MaoriA bungee jump will surely be involved in the trip. Or at least the Sky Walk around Auckland’s Sky Tower. It is 600 feet above the ground and has a platform without railings on it. They let their dumb cluck tourists go around to both enjoy the view as well catch sights of the cooks at the revolving restaurant atop the Tower putting down meat cleavers and chopping vegetables. What the Sky Tower doesn’t advertise is that the Sky Walk is one way to understand the exact meaning of the word ‘nerves.’ It is not about the stuff in the brain: it refers to the capacity of the gut to turn to water and the knees to switch to the mode called Wobble.The more beguiling parts of New Zealand come quietly, far removed from the adrenaline rush of a bunjee jump or the intoxication of a wine-tasting tour (both of which, all sources reveal, are worth the expense.) The country which also owns a romantic Maori name of Aotearoa (also pronounced Ao-tea-roa); the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand needs to be tackled much like you tasted a kiwi fruit for the first time- absorbed slowly and without expectation.To absorb, first abandon thoughts of Australia.New Zealand is not even close-it is just over 25 degrees south east in longitude from its bigger neighbour. The shortest flight between the two is three hours, with a time difference of two hours. Think India and Iraq to the West or Indonesia to the East.Bungee jumping and jogging are two of the most popular adventure sportsArriving in New Zealand is more about finding yourself at the doorstep of Australia’s distant cousin. Distant, mind, not close. Getting there is understanding what it means to be at the edge of the Pacific, in the most active hub of the part of the world called Polynesia. Even in a flat world, this is its very rim. When the sun rises in the East, it rises in its eastern outpost, the New Zealand’s Chatham Islands, 800kms East in the South Pacific Ocean.An immigration line in Auckland will contain a palette of races and cultures that even the well-travelled outsider may find hard to identify. The signboard at baggage arrival-Papeete, Apia, Noumea, Rarotonga, Nuku ‘alofa, Niue-could contain the names of places that must surely be the outposts of paradise.In New Zealand, it is best to wander. Just around the corner and past the obvious, it is possible to find sometimes hidden magical, mystical tales, magical flavours. So when you are offered a choice between a muffin and a fruit on one of the domestic flights, take the fruit. It will be an apple (or pear or nectarine) you will never forget. Promise. What looks like a tiny hill in an Auckland suburb is actually a dormant volcano.The curving Maori symbol of the koru based on the unfurled frond of fern and stands for growth. In a country which prides itself on practical place names like the Doubtful Range and Eighty Eight Valley, there flows a river called the Waimakariri. There is an ice cream called Hokey Pokey and a Tall Black is a basketball player and an All White plays football, a Flat White or a Long Black though is actually Kiwi code for coffee.With a population of under five million, they have plenty rooms at the innsThat just a turn off a country road past a few random fields there will be a rugby club, where a game can be on, always stop and watch. In New Zealand, it is like going to church. Okay, not as holy, but socially sacred. The club could have produced half a dozen All Blacks, the country’s national rugby team that has made rugby union famous around the world even where the sport is not understood. They have a World Cup being held from September 9, when it is possible that every time the All Blacks play, New Zealand may stop breathing. It’s like India and cricket, smaller in scale but as fierce. It will contain mud, maybe blood and some very big men.If New Zealand feels like the edge of the earth, its southern most town, called Inverness, is the closest you can get to Antarctica without being on a scientific expedition. That wonderful description is stolen off a cricket report in the Hindu, but if you are in Inverness (which has another rude description which we shall ignore) stand on its shores (warm clothes mandatory) and take your imagination out to sea. The next shore your mind can spot will feature penguins.New Zealand’s entire landscape is as stunning as it is advertised but what sets it off, is what actually cannot be advertised. It is the country’s canopy of blue, the skies reflecting the cleanest of air (pure, fresh, remember) and it will always surprise. In day time it will contain cotton-clouds that will make every holiday photograph look as if it has been photoshopped. At night you will realise just how many stars there really are in the sky and why we are all actually living on an insignificant piece of rock. Aotearoa is far, far away but one of the country’s more famous pop songs from the 1980s contains a question that must be answered, “The tyranny of distance never stopped the cavalier, so why should it stop me?” So be a cavalier and go. When you get there, New Zealand will remind you of many things-of how the small can be significant and how afterwards, remoteness need not ever matter again.The writer is Delhi based and is Senior Editor, ESPNcricinfo.com.advertisementadvertisementlast_img read more

a month agoChelsea winger Hudson-Odoi: Lampard appointment helped contract decision

first_imgChelsea winger Hudson-Odoi: Lampard appointment helped contract decisionby Freddie Taylora month agoSend to a friendShare the loveCallum Hudson-Odoi says Frank Lampard’s appointment gave him an “extra boost” towards signing a new contract with Chelsea.The 18-year-old signed a new five-year contract on Thursday after over a year of negotiations.And Hudson-Odoi has credited Lampard’s presence will helping him decide his long-term future.”I’ve been thinking for a while what it would be like to be playing for Chelsea for the next five years and how everything might go, especially now Frank is here as the manager. “It’s a great feeling for all of us because we know he gives everybody a chance if you’re playing well and working hard.”He’s a very good manager. I can tell that by what he’s trying to do and the things he’s trying to implement into our football. He has the mentality of winning, which we all want and we all need, so him coming in was just an extra boost for me.”He’s already given me confidence, having a chat with me here and there, and it’s great when a manager has faith in you. I’m delighted he’s here and I’m looking forward to working more with him.” About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Nova Scotia premier defends reinstatement of top aide who assaulted woman

first_imgHALIFAX – For the second time in four days, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil was forced off message Thursday to defend himself from attacks on gender-related issues.At a campaign stop in Halifax, McNeil said Liberal communications director Kyley Harris deserved “a second chance” after being handed a conditional discharge for striking a woman in the face during a domestic argument on May 9, 2014.Harris was a spokesman for McNeil at the time, but was fired after waiting four days to tell the government he was facing an assault charge.Harris was hired back in 2015 to do research in the Liberal caucus office and is now listed as director of communications for the central campaign in the runup to the May 30 provincial vote.The matter resurfaced after federal Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose posted on social media Wednesday saying Harris’s re-hiring sends a “terrible message,” and that Liberal leaders “need to walk the talk on violence against women.”When asked about it Thursday, Nova Scotia Tory Leader Jamie Baillie said McNeil had exercised poor judgment in putting Harris back into his inner circle.“When the premier chooses to re-employ a person who pled guilty to a domestic assault I have to question his judgment. I think it shows poor judgment,” Baillie said. “It sends a terrible message to victims of domestic assault, men and women, who feel the system of government isn’t there for them.”In response, McNeil said he was proud of his party’s record on supporting victims of domestic violence, but that people shouldn’t be held back because of their past actions.“People deserve a second chance and Mr. Harris is one of those Nova Scotians,” he said, while dismissing Ambrose’s remarks. “As far as the national leader’s comments, that’s her comment.”McNeil added that Harris was not part of either his government or inner circle as Baillie had charged.After pleading guilty, Harris was sentenced to nine months’ probation and 30 hours of community service. He read a statement in court saying his actions were “inexcusable and disgraceful.”“I made an unforgivable mistake and I am sorry,” he said at the time.NDP Leader Gary Burrill pointed out Thursday the Harris controversy comes days after the premier drew fire for comments about running women in ridings that were “winnable.”“Mr. Harris’s appointment raises honest questions for people, particularly women around the province, and these are questions that it would be reasonable for us to expect Mr. McNeil to answer,” he said.McNeil was questioned Monday about why only 12 of the party’s 51 candidates for the May 30 election are women, but the Liberal leader insisted his party “has stood beside women to have them elected in meaningful ridings.”Burrill pointed out 24 of his party’s 51 candidates are women, while Baillie stood Monday with 12 female candidates and demanded McNeil apologize for his “thoughtless and dismissive comments.”The back-and-forth over Harris overshadowed the premier’s health care announcement Thursday, as he promised $78 million over four years to create and expand 70 collaborative care teams across the province. There would also be a $5 million annual fund for the construction and renovation of collaborative care clinics.The funding, announced in last week’s proposed budget, would go toward hiring nurses, social workers, and mental health workers to work with doctors in collaborative clinics.“This investment will attract highly skilled medical professionals to our province and provide an economic boost to communities when we expand our social infrastructure,” said McNeil.But he said the Liberals also realize that more doctors are needed now, and that’s why the party has made a commitment to hire 50 new doctors a year through another $2.4 million announced in the budget.Meanwhile, Burrill announced in a Halifax coffee shop that an NDP government would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 — helping an estimated 130,000 lower income workers.Burrill said the implementation plan would be similar to one in Alberta, and would see the current wage of $10.85 raised in three phases. He said it would start with an increase of $1 on Jan. 1, and would be followed by two increases of around $1.57.“The rest of Canada has been seriously improving the standard of living for the lowest paid amongst us while Nova Scotia has come close to a real standstill on this important measure of economic security and social inclusion,” said Burrill.He said the plan includes a commission on the economy that would consult with businesses, corporations, and not-for-profits to determine how to help them adapt to the wage increase.Baillie said a Progressive Conservative government would spend $150 million over 10 years to bring high speed Internet service to rural areas which have long done without. The funding would be cost-shared with Ottawa and municipalities, meaning the annual provincial contribution would be $7.5 million.“It is unfair to expect Nova Scotians because of where they live to be disconnected from an opportunity to make a living, an opportunity to learn and to participate in social media,” Baillie said. “In 2017 access to high speed Internet is an essential service that should not be out of reach to any Nova Scotian.”last_img read more