Daily Archives: April 10, 2019

US Pork Industry Cancels Convention Over African Swine Fever Fears

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS The U.S. pork industry canceled its annual convention on Wednesday over concerns that international attendees could bring in an incurable hog disease at a time when American farmers are already suffering from trade wars.

The decision to scrap the World Pork Expo, held by the National Pork Producers Council in Des Moines each June, signals growing fears about the spread of African swine fever in Asia.

The event usually attracts about 20,000 people over three days, including participants from China and other countries that have experienced outbreaks of the disease, according to the group.

China, home to the world’s largest hog herd, has reported more than 110 cases of African swine fever since it was first detected in the country in August 2018. There is no cure and no vaccine for the disease, which does not affect humans but is highly contagious and fatal to pigs.

The Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health said on Wednesday that South Africa detected an outbreak of African swine fever, which has also been found in Vietnam and Europe.

American farmers, meat companies and government officials want to keep the disease out of the United States because cases would likely shut off export markets.

“The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount,” said David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a farmer from Lillington, North Carolina. “The livelihoods of our producers depend on it.

The U.S. government has increased screenings for illegal pork products at airports and sea ports and cracked down on smuggling in an effort to keep out African swine fever.

U.S. pork producers are asking Congress to appropriate funding for another 600 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

American hog farmers have been under pressure over the past year from U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China and Mexico, two top U.S. pork export markets.

U.S. pork faces retaliatory duties of 62 percent in China and up to 20 percent in Mexico, reducing demand and contributing to a mountain of unsold meat in cold storage.

The tariffs influenced the National Pork Producers Council’s decision to cancel the annual convention, sometimes referred to as the “big pig gig,” according to the group.

“U.S. pork producers are already operating in very challenging financial conditions,” Herring said.

Source: Voice of America

Algeria Army Chief Backs Interim Leader, Sees Foreign Hand

ALGIERS, ALGERIA Algeria’s powerful army chief on Wednesday backed the country’s newly appointed interim leader, and said the military will watch over the process to prepare for presidential elections, but suggested it doesn’t want to intervene.

Ahmed Gaid Salah, speaking at a regional military headquarters in Oran, said it is “unreasonable” to organize elections in the three-month transition period allotted by the constitution without institutional guidance, such of that of Abdelkader Bensalah.

The head of the Senate was appointed the day before to replace former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was pressured by massive protests to step down after two decades in office. Bouteflika had tried to hang on, but the pressure increased when Gaid Salah withdrew his support and denounced the corrupt “gang” running the country.

Under the constitution, Bensalah should serve as interim leader for a maximum of 90 days while elections are organized. However, protesters who have held massive and peaceful nationwide demonstrations for seven weeks reject Bensalah and others close to Bouteflika, demanding a complete change in the system that has governed the gas-rich nation since its independence from France in 1962.

In a much-awaited speech Wednesday, provided by the official APS news agency and the private site TSA Algerie, the army chief Gaid Salah said the judicial system would pursue corruption cases and resurrect those that had been dropped.

He warned anew of an alleged foreign hand he contended is promoting certain individuals to run the transition and manipulating protesters to destabilize the nation and “seed discord among the children of the people … aimed at leading the country to a constitutional void.”

He did not say who he alleged was interfering, but referred to “certain foreign parties, considering their historic record” a likely veiled reference to former colonial power France.

From the start of the nation’s political crisis, the army has “categorically rejected” intervening, Gaid Salah said, stressing that it will oversee the transition and stand as a “solid support for the people.” However, he warned that “persistent unrealizable demands” would impact the economy and buying power a motor behind the protests in a nation with high unemployment and a very young population.

He pleaded for “patience … and lucidity” to ensure peace and form the basis for a “state of law and institutions.”

Source: Voice of America

MEC Ismail Vadi officially opens newly constructed testing centre in Kagiso, 11 Apr

Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Dr Ismail Vadi together with MEC for Infrastructure Development, Jacob Mamabolo, will on Thursday, 11 April 2019, officially open the newly constructed Driver Learner Testing Centre (DLTC) in Kagiso, Mogale City.

The MECs will be joined by Mogale City Executive Mayor Patrick Lipudi as well as local councillors.

Constructed at a cost of R24 million, the Kagiso DLTC is a Grade D centre providing services that include applications for learners’ licenses, driver testing, motor vehicle registration and license renewals.

This is in line with the Provincial Government’s commitment to bring public services closer to communities.

The centre will further provide fully online and cashless services as the Provincial Government explore ways to take advantage of benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Source: Government of South Africa

MECs Albert Fritz and Beverley SchA�fer visit Youth Development Programme in Atlantis SEZ, 12 Apr

On 12 April, the Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz, together with the Minister of Economic Development, Beverley SchA�fer, will be visiting the Lesedi Nuclear Services’ Skills Academy (LSA) based in the heart of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

LSA provides skills development and training, allowing young people, and previously disadvantaged individuals to enter the formal job market. It further supports the industrialisation of Atlantis which was declared a SEZ in 2018. Since 2015, LSA has trained over 100 learners, mostly from Atlantis. Of those trained, 92% are 35 years and younger.

Source: Government of South Africa

Australian Election to Be Fought on Refugees, Economy

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA Australia’s prime minister on Thursday called a May 18 election that will be fought on issues including climate change, asylum seekers and economic management.

We live in the best country in the world, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters after advising the governor-general to authorize the election.

But to secure your future, the road ahead depends on a strong economy. And that’s why there is so much at stake at this election, he added.

Morrison’s conservative coalition is seeking a third three-year term. But Morrison is the third prime minister to lead a divided government in that time and only took the helm in late August.

Short reign possible

Opinion polls suggest his reign will become one of the shortest in the 118-year history of Australian prime ministers on election day. The polls suggest center-left opposition leader Bill Shorten will become the eighth prime minister since the country plunged into an extraordinary period of political instability in 2007.

The election pits Shorten, a former labor union leader who has presented himself as the alternative prime minister for the past six years, and Morrison, a leader who the Australian public is still getting to know.

Tough immigration policy

Morrison is seen as the architect of Australia’s tough refugee policy that has all but stopped the people-smuggling traffic of boats from Southeast Asian ports since 2014. The policy has been condemned by human rights groups as an abrogation of Australia’s responsibilities as a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention.

Morrison’s first job in Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s newly elected coalition government in 2013 was as minister for immigration and border protection. He oversaw the secretive military-run Operation Sovereign Borders.

Asylum-seekers from the Middle East, Africa and Asia would typically disable or sink their boats when intercepted by patrol ships in waters north of Australia so that the Australian crews would have to rescue them rather than turn the boats away. Under the new regime, the asylum-seekers were placed in motorized life boats that were towed back to Indonesia. The life boats had just enough fuel to reach the Indonesian coast. The Indonesian government complained the policy was an affront to Indonesian sovereignty.

The government has also maintained a policy adopted in the final months of a Labor government in 2013 of sending boat arrivals to camps on the Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Those who attempt to reach Australia by boat are told they will never be allowed to settle there.

Morrison remains proud of virtually stopping people-smuggler boat traffic. He has a trophy shaped like a people-smuggler’s boat in his office inscribed with I Stopped These.

Labor’s immigration approach

Labor has promised to maintain the policy of banishing boat arrivals to the islands. But Labor says it would give priority to finding permanent homes for the asylum-seekers who have languished in island camps for years.

The conservative coalition argues that the boats would start coming again because a Labor government would soften the regime. The government introduced temporary protection visas for boat arrivals so that refugees face potential deportation every three years if the circumstances that they fled in their homelands improve. Labor would give refugees permanent visas so that they have the certainty to plan their lives.

Climate change

Climate change policy is a political battlefield in a country that is the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas and has been one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitters on a per capita basis because of its heavily reliance on coal-fired power generation.

Disagreement over energy policy has been a factor in the last six changes of prime minister.

Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard introduced a carbon tax in 2012. Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott scrapped it two years later.

The coalition is torn between lawmakers who want polluters to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions and those who reject any measures that would increase household power bills.

The government aims to reduce Australian greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Labor has promised a more ambitious target of a 45% reduction in the same time frame.

Action on climate change was a major priority for votes when conservative Prime Minister John Howard’s reign ended after more than 11 years at an election in 2007.

Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd immediately signed up to the U.N.’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol on reducing emissions. Australia and the United States had been the only industrialized countries to hold out.

Climate change dropped down the list of Australian priorities after the global financial crisis hit.

But after Australians sweltered through a record hot summer and grappled with devastating drought, global warming has become a high-priority issue for voters again.

The government warns that Labor’s emissions reduction plan would wreck the economy.

Economy an issue

The coalition also argues that Labor would further damage the economy with its policy of reducing tax breaks for landlords as real estate prices fall in Australia’s largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.

Morrison boasts that the conservative administration Prime Minister Howard led delivered 10 annual surplus budgets and paid off all federal government debt before the government changed at the 2007 election.

Rudd had planned a budget surplus in his government’s first fiscal year, but the global financial crisis struck.

Many economists congratulate Rudd for keeping the Australian economy out of recession through stimulus spending. The coalition has accused Labor of spending too much and sinking Australia too deep in debt.

But debt has continued to mount since the conservatives regained the reins in 2013. But opinion polls suggest voters consider the conservatives to be better economic managers.

The government brought forward its annual budget blueprint by a month to April 2 and revealed a plan to balance Australia’s books in the next fiscal year for the first time in 12 years.

Labor also promised to deliver a surplus budget in the year starting July 1, but it has yet to detail how it will achieve this goal.

Free cancer treatment

Labor has also promised to spend an additional AU$2.3 billion ($1.6 billion) over four years on covering treatment costs of cancer patients. It’s an attractive offer with half Australia’s population expected to be diagnosed with some form of the disease in their lifetimes.

The conservatives have largely taken credit for Australia’s remarkable run of 28 years of economic growth since its last recession under Labor’s rule.

Morrison hopes that voters will look to him to deliver a sequel to the Howard years when a mining boom delivered ever-increasing budget surpluses.

Source: Voice of America