Daily Archives: August 27, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

Time Topic

Schedule of parliamentary committee sessions:

10:00 Meeting by Administration and Justice Committee, chaired by MP Robert Ghanem, to follow-up on the study of the consumer protection law proposal

12:00 Meeting by National Defense, Interior and Municipalities Committee, headed by MP Samir Jisr

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11:00 Culture Minister Ghattas Khouri meets with Chinese Ambassador Jiang Zengwei at his Ministry office

11:00 Press conference by Teachers’ Union to provide “an explanation of what is being waged against teachers in the private sector” at its headquarters in Adlieh area

17:00 Ceremony for granting “Certificates of Excellence” to the winners of the Association of Specialization and Scientific Guidance for Graduate Studies in Lebanon and Abroad for academic year 2017-2018, under the patronage of House Speaker Nabih Berri, taking place at the Association’s Assembly Hall in Ramlet El Baida

18:00 Sunset Prayer – memorial to St. John the Baptist, under the patronage of President Michel Aoun represented by Information Minister Melhem Riachi at St. John the Apostle Monastery in Khenshara

18:00 Joint press conference by Lebanese artist Youssef el-Khal with the Lebanese Red Cross Foundation to announce his project “First Time” (from Arida in the North to Naqoura in the South) at the Hilton Habtoor Hotel in Sin El Fil

18:00 Environmental seminar to present an integrated solution to the waste crisis, at the invitation of Sidon Municipal Council under the patronage of MP Bahia Hariri

19:30 Meeting called for by Bar Association Candidate in Beirut, Lucien Aoun, in Baabda, De’aibes Street (nearby Polish Embassy), Issam Abu Jamra Bldg. (2nd floor)

================ R.Sh.

Follow the latest National News Agency (NNA) news on Radio Lebanon 98.5, 98.1, and 96.2 FM

TEDGlobal 2017 Conference Opens in Tanzania

Ten years on, TEDGlobal returns to Africa with live event featuring 45+ talks, interviews and performances

ARUSHA, Tanzania, Aug. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, opens its TEDGlobal 2017 Conference today in Arusha, Tanzania. Themed “Builders. Truth-tellers. Catalysts.” the event will host 700 attendees at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge for a program of 45+ speakers and performers sharing ideas in TED’s signature format of short, powerful talks – no longer than 18 minutes. The four-day event will also feature presentations and performances from 27 TED Fellows. It marks TED’s first return to Africa since the memorable TEDGlobal 2007 Conference held at the same location.

“Our event here a decade ago led to so many meaningful ideas, connections and collaborations,” said head of TED Chris Anderson. “Now, we have a chance to reignite those sparks. The ideas emerging from Africa have the potential to create transformative impact, not just here on the continent, but worldwide.”

“This gathering couldn’t come a moment too soon,” said TEDGlobal co-curator Emeka Okafor. “Africa has experienced spectacular economic, demographic and creative growth, but both opportunity and danger are rising at an exponential rate. Our conference will gather the idea catalysts, problem-solvers and change-makers already hard at work here charting Africa’s own path to modernity.”

The speakers and performers selected for TEDGlobal 2017 offer fresh, unique perspectives and solutions on a global level. They include:

  • OluTimehin Adegbeye, Writer and activist
  • Oshiorenoya Agabi, Neurotechnology entrepreneur
  • Nabila Alibhai, Place-maker
  • Alsarah & the Nubatones, East African retro-popsters
  • Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Publisher
  • Christian Benimana, Architect
  • Niti Bhan, Founder and owner, Emerging Futures Lab
  • Mahen Bonetti, Film curator
  • Augustus Casely-Hayford, Cultural historian
  • Natsai Audrey Chieza, Designer
  • Llew Claasen, Strategist
  • Tania Douglas, Biomedical engineering professor
  • Touria El Glaoui, Art fair curator
  • Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu, Indigenous knowledge expert
  • Kamau Gachigi, Technologist
  • Ameena Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius
  • Leo Igwe, Human rights activist
  • Amar Inamdar, Entrepreneurial business leader
  • Joel Jackson, Transport entrepreneur
  • Tunde Jegede, Composer, cellist, kora virtuoso
  • Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda
  • Zachariah Mampilly, Political scientist
  • Vivek Maru, Legal empowerment advocate
  • Kola Masha, Agricultural leader
  • Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, MIT professor, grassroots thinker-doer, author
  • Thandiswa Mazwai, Singer
  • Yvonne Chioma Mbanefo, Language and culture advocate
  • Sara Menker, Technology entrepreneur
  • Sethembile Msezane, Artist
  • Kisilu Musya, Farmer and filmmaker
  • Robert Neuwirth, Author
  • Kevin Njabo, Biodiversity scientist
  • Ndidi Nwuneli, Social innovation expert
  • Dayo Ogunyemi, Cultural media builder
  • Nnedi Okorafor, Science fiction writer
  • Fredros Okumu, Mosquito scientist
  • Qudus Onikeku, Dancer, Choreographer
  • DK Osseo-Asare, Designer
  • Keller Rinaudo, Robotics entrepreneur
  • Chris Sheldrick, Co-founder and CEO, what3words
  • Sauti Sol, Afro-pop band
  • George Steinmetz, Aerial photographer
  • Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, Historian and philosopher
  • Pierre Thaim, Chef
  • Iké Udé, Artist
  • Washington Wachira, Wildlife ecologist and nature photographer
  • Magatte Wade, Brand creator
  • Ghada Wali, Designer

A number of exciting brands and companies have partnered with TEDGlobal 2017 to help share ideas and foster an atmosphere of curiosity and discovery. Partners include: The Africa Center, Boston Consulting Group, Brightline Initiative, Gilead Sciences, Logitech, Omidyar Network, Sandstorm Kenya, Tommy Hilfiger, Westpac Banking Group and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Follow TEDGlobal 2017 on the TED blog, Facebook, Twitter (@TEDTalks), Instagram (@TED) and LinkedIn. The official hashtag of the event is #TEDGlobal.

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual gathering in Vancouver, Canada, its TEDWomen and TEDGlobal conferences, and at thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world, then made available, free, on TED.com and other channels. Today there are more than 2,500 TED Talks available for free on TED.com, which are viewed about a billion times a year.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; the educational initiative TED-Ed; and the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world.

At least 2 dead as Harvey slams Texas coast, causing floods

NNA – Harvey spun deeper into Texas and unloaded extraordinary amounts of rain Saturday after the once-fearsome hurricane crashed into vulnerable homes and businesses along the coastline in a blow that killed at least two people and injured up to 14.

Throughout the region between Corpus Christi and Houston, many people feared that toll was only the beginning. Authorities did not know the full scope of damage because weather conditions prevented emergency crews from getting into the hardest-hit places. And they dreaded the destruction that was yet to come from a storm that could linger for days and unload more than 40 inches (100 centimeters) of rain on cities, including dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest.

In the island community of Port Aransas, population 3,800, officials were unable to fully survey the town because of “massive” damage. Police and heavy equipment had only made it into the northernmost street.

“I can tell you I have a very bad feeling and that’s about it,” said Mayor Charles Bujan, who had called for a mandatory evacuation but did not know how many heeded the order.

Some of the worst damage appeared to be in Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm’s path. The mayor said his community took a blow “right on the nose” that left “widespread devastation,” including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.

Rockport’s roads were a mess of toppled power poles. A trailer blocked much of one major intersection. Wood framing from ripped-apart houses was strewn along Route 35 on the town’s southern end.

Harvey’s relentless wind tore the metal sides off the high school gym and twisted the steel door frame of its auditorium.

“We’re still in the very infancy stage of getting this recovery started,” said Aransas County spokesman Larry Sinclair.

Rockport Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax told The Weather Channel that the city’s emergency response system had been hampered by the loss of cellphone service and other forms of communication.

A day earlier, Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios offered ominous advice, telling people who chose not to evacuate to mark their arms with Sharpie pens, implying that the marks would make it easier for rescuers to identify them.

One person was killed in Aransas County when in a fire at home during the storm, county Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. said. A second person died in flooding in Harris County, where Houston is located.

Gary Norman, a spokesman for the Houston emergency operations center, said late Saturday that the person was a woman appeared to have gotten out of her vehicle in high water, though authorities had not confirmed a cause of death. She was found by neighbors about 30 yards (27 meters) away from her vehicle, and Norman said she was pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor who was in the area.

Mills also said as many as 14 people suffered minor injuries in his county, including slips and falls, scrapes and a broken leg.

About 300,000 customers were without power statewide. Gov. Greg Abbott said it would probably be several days before electricity is restored.

Meanwhile, the storm was barely moving. Rainfall totals varied across the region, with Corpus Christi and Galveston receiving around 3 inches (8 centimeters), Houston 7 (18 centimeters) and Aransas 10 (25 centimeters). Tiny Austwell got 15 inches (38 centimeters).

In Houston, authorities were pleading with people not to leave their homes as a flood emergency was declared.

“The streets are treacherous,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Elsewhere in the storm’s immediate aftermath, the Coast Guard had rescued 20 people from boats and barges in distress, said Capt. Tony Hahn, commander of the Corpus Christi sector.

The Corpus Christi port was closed with extensive damage. Because the city is the third-largest petrochemical port in the nation, the agency will be on the lookout for spills, Hahn said.

The fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.

Harvey weakened to a tropical storm by midday Saturday.

By 1 a.m. Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said Harvey’s maximum sustained winds were about 45 mph (72.42 kph), but the storm was practically stationary as it dumped torrential rain over an area that included Houston.

The hurricane posed the first major emergency management test of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Trump met with his Cabinet and other senior administration officials to discuss the federal response to the damage and flooding, the White House said Saturday in a statement.

The president held a video conference from Camp David in which he instructed departments and agencies to “stay fully engaged and positioned to support his number one priority of saving lives,” the statement said.

Trump, who on Friday signed a federal disaster declaration for coastal counties, also reminded department heads that the full impact of the storm will not be apparent for days. On Twitter, he commended the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for his handling of the disaster.

In Corpus Christi, the major city closest to the storm’s center, wind whipped palm trees and stinging sheets of horizontal rain slapped against hotels and office buildings along the seawall as the storm made landfall.

Daybreak revealed downed lamp posts and tree limbs and roof tiles torn off buildings. Along Interstate 45 leaving Galveston, the rain was so intense that drivers stopped under bridges because they could not see in front of them.

Rain fell on Houston at nearly 3 inches (8 centimeters) an hour, leaving some streets and underpasses underwater. The many drainage channels known as bayous that carry excess water to the Gulf were flowing freely and rising.

“Flooding is a minor issue so far,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the chief administrator of the county that includes Houston, said. “Most of the watersheds are well within banks, but we’re not out of this.”

Francisco Sanchez, with the Harris County Emergency Management Office, said the storm would be around for a while.

“Someone is going to get those very high rainfall totals,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not us, but we’re in that possibility area.”

South of the city, about 4,500 inmates were evacuated from three state prisons in Brazoria County because the nearby Brazos River was rising.

The turbulent weather extended into southern Louisiana, where motorists were cautioned about the potential for high water, road hazards, high winds and tornadoes.

Harvey came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.

The storm’s approach sent tens of thousands of people fleeing inland.

Just hours before landfall, the governor and Houston leaders issued conflicting statements on evacuation.

The governor urged more people to flee, but Houston officials recommended no widespread evacuations, citing greater danger in having people on roads that could flood and the fact that the hurricane was not taking direct aim at the city.

The last Category 4 storm to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Charley in August 2004 in Florida. —AP

=========== R.K.

Follow the latest National News Agency (NNA) news on Radio Lebanon 98.5, 98.1, and 96.2 FM

New USAID Chief Visits Sudan as Sanctions Deadline Nears

KHARTOUM � U.S. President Donald Trump’s new aid chief, Mark Green, kicked off an African tour in Sudan on Sunday, where he will assess whether Khartoum has done enough to get help into conflict areas to deserve eased sanctions.

It is Green’s first trip as administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, a job he began two weeks ago amid talk of budget cuts and a wide-reaching reorganization of the agency by the Trump administration.

He is due to visit aid projects in drought-hit zones including neighboring Ethiopia, at a time when Washington is considering an estimated 30-percent cut in the budget of the State Department and USAID.

But his priorities will also include weighing whether Washington should reform one of its main diplomatic fronts in the region – a raft of sanctions imposed first over Khartoum’s perceived support of global terrorism, later its violent suppression of rebels in Darfur.

U.S. officials have said existing limited steps to ease sanctions are meant to recognize progress in Sudan, particularly moves to reduce internal conflict and increase cooperation with Washington in the war against terrorism.

Just before leaving office, former U.S. President Barack Obama temporarily eased penalties against Sudan, suspending a trade embargo, unfreezing assets and removing financial sanctions.

In July, the Trump administration postponed for three months a decision on whether to remove the restrictions full-time � giving it an Oct. 12 deadline to make up its mind.

Part of Green’s fact-finding mission, say the officials, will be to assess whether the Khartoum government is letting aid into Darfur and other rebellious border areas, one of several conditions that needs to be met.

Speaking to U.N. representatives and other donors hours after his arrival in Khartoum, Green said his visit showed the importance of improved humanitarian access.

“This review period is not the sole reason I am here, but it is one,” he said. “I’m here to listen, learn, and gather information to take back to Washington as the administration evaluates Sudan’s progress,” he said.

Green assured donors that the United States would not walk walk away from funding the humanitarian crisis, despite the proposed budget cuts.

“The United States will not walk away from our commitment to humanitarian assistance, and we will always stand with people everywhere when disaster strikes, for that is who we are is Americans,” said Green.

Any lifting of economic penalties would be a major turnaround for the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who once played host to Osama bin Laden and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide in Darfur.

Washington has not weakened its condemnation of the tactics the Sudanese government used in Darfur � and Sudan remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, alongside Iran and Syria.

But the different signals on sanctions have come at a time of seismic changes in the region � U.S. security officials have praised Khartoum’s more recent help in fighting al Qaeda and dealing with the turmoil in northern neighbor Libya.

Diplomatic calculations have also changed since South Sudan collapsed into chaos after declaring independence from Sudan in 2011.

Green, a 57-year-old former four-term Republican congressman from Wisconsin, served as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush, and helped craft key areas of Bush’s signature AIDS program, PEPFAR.

Earlier this month, he told Reuters he needed to do more with less as he faced the prospect of budget cuts, and had to prove to Trump that development assistance could further his “America First” agenda.

Source: Voice of America

MEC Albert Fritz launches EPWP initiative to combat Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on West Coast

Department launches EPWP initiative to combat Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on the West Coast

Western Cape Social Development MEC, Albert Fritz, has launched a groundbreaking youth development initiative using the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), to boost the fight against Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the West Coast area.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) has partnered with the Landbou Gemeenskap Ontwikkeling (LGO), and in April provided funding for 15 EPWP posts.

LGO has used the resources to train 15 young people and deploy them as Community Workers into the farming communities on the West Coast. The Community Workers work under the guidance of the LGO Social Worker and its Farmworker Committee. They’ll run;

public education,

school holiday programmes,

leadership development,

anti-teenage substance abuse and,

anti-FASD programmes (link pregnant mothers, who may be drinking, to health and counselling services).

The partnership will also see DSD local offices in the region work closely with the LGO, to provide social work resources, such as child protection and early childhood development services, to tackle other social problems.

Our efforts as DSD are guided by evidence and data. A recent study funded by DSD indicated that the prevalence of FASD in the West Coast was found to be 64 children per 1000 affected (6,42%).

The West Coast prevalence rate can be compared to the findings in the most recent studies conducted in Kimberley (60/1000) and the Witzenberg area (96/1000). However the prevalence rate of 122/1000 found in De Aar, still makes it the highest reported FASD rate worldwide.

The West Coast’s prevalence rate means that there is a serious problem with FASD in this area, and the impact of this will be felt throughout its communities.

FASD is 100% preventable. Prevention is essential because FASD is unfortunately 100% incurable.

The Head Manager of LGO, Mr. Johan van de Hoven, in his address thanked the Department for the 15 EPWP intern positions, as it greatly expands the organization’s impact and reach. Mr van de Hoven highlighted the problems FASD creates in our communities, saying: FASD poses a major challenge to the development of children and, later, adults. I am proud of the partnership with the Department, as it brings social services closer to communities.

MEC Fritz expressed his commitment to providing opportunities for young people and eradicating FASD from all affected communities. We will continue the fight against FASD and all other forms of substance abuse. Empowering young people to take the lead is central this objective, said MEC Fritz. This is why DSD spends R112-million jointly on the Youth and Substance Abuse Programmes, which provide services that tackle drug and alcohol abuse, and create social and economic opportunities for young people.

Source: Government of South Africa