Key Reference Rock Formed Five Times Faster than Thought

first_imgStrata in the Niagara Gorge, used as a reference for Silurian dating, formed much quicker than previously believed – in just 1/5 the time, according to a press release from Ohio State.  Bradley Cramer and his advisor Matthew Saltzmann used high-resolution carbon isotope stratigraphy to re-examine the rocks in the Niagara Gorge.  “Rocks that were originally estimated to have formed as sediments built up over 10 million years’ time actually formed in only 2 million years, they found.”    A ramification of this study is that dates of other rocks around America and the world could also be in error, because they relied on dates from this region.  A boundary called the Ireviken Excursion is seen in the United States, Canada and Sweden, which geologists believe represents a global event involving the extinction of many marine organisms.  The rocks in the Niagara Gorge, among the first dated by geologists in the 1800s, established a benchmark for other corresponding formations around the world.  Now that the formation time has collapsed from 10 million years to 2 million or less (since “most of the formations originated during the Ireviken event, which lasted for only 1 million years or so”), this new finding will have a ripple effect:Rock formations there are used as a frame of reference to judge the ages of rocks throughout North America.  So these new results mean that many scientists will have to revise their work.  Estimates of when certain animals went extinct may change.    “Unfortunately, this means that a lot of people are going to have to re-examine work that they thought was done,” Cramer said.Cramer, a doctoral student at Ohio State, is next going to examine some pre-Silurian dates with the carbon isotope technique.  Though he believes this technique is more accurate, he commented on the uncertainties in geological dating methods:“We have this great geological record of climate changes in the past,” Cramer said.  “The problem is, the rate of change that we’re worried about in the modern day is on a very short time scale.  And when we look into the deep past, our ability to know where we are in time isn’t that precise.  If we can get our time constraints down more precisely, we can begin to ask the same sort of questions of the past that we’re asking of the modern era.”The dating technique relies on ratios of carbon-12 to carbon-13.  Geologists assume that similar anomalous ratios represent global “excursions” away from the norm.The Niagara Gorge was the site of another episode where the word “unfortunately” is apt.  Creation on the Web retells how Charles Lyell, the father of uniformitarian geology (who had a huge influence on Darwin) fudged the data about the rate of erosion of Niagara Falls.  His estimate of the age of the falls—35,000 years—undermined the faith of many Christians about the Biblical record of the age of the earth.  Only after the damage was done did the facts come out: his estimate was also at least four to five times too slow!  The corrected date puts the age at an upper limit of 7000-9000 years, much more credible in a Biblical timescale, considering that the erosion would have been much more rapid right after the Flood.    Now, another measurement in the same gorge has been found to be off by a factor of five.  Sure, everything is still stated in terms of millions of years, but bigger questions need to be faced.  Think of the confidence that many other geologists placed in the earlier estimate.  Think of the timelines, tables, and charts published in geology textbooks and scientific papers that counted on the Ireviken Excursion dating to a particular age and rate of formation.  Now, “a lot of people are going to have to re-examine work that they thought was done.”  They need to re-examine at a much deeper level and question another formation: the geological column itself.    Uniformitarian geologists might respond that this error represents one correction out of a vast body of data and will not have that big an impact on the geological column.  But Cramer’s comments bear deeper reflection: “when we look into the deep past, our ability to know where we are in time isn’t that precise.”  Then he said that “if we can get our time constraints down more precisely, we can begin to ask” the pertinent questions (italics added).  That is a big if.  Geologists apparently counted on this marker from 1800 to 2006, only to find that the formation was laid down at least five times faster than they had estimated.  What confidence can we have in other measurements?  How much can one infer about millions of years when all he has to go on is some carbon isotope ratios?    The problem is, their methods are married to their assumptions, and those assumptions were raised in Darwinland.  Cramer was only questioning the rate of formation of this particular gorge, not the framework of geological history that assumes it occurred hundreds of millions of years ago when fish were presumably evolving.  A new generation of geologists needs to arise with bigger questions, and fewer assumptions.  For too long, the marriage of geology with evolutionary theory has been a bondage instead of a blessed union.  Calling a rock stratum “Silurian” for convenience based on a type section is harmless taxonomy, but why must Silurian correspond to evolutionary beliefs?  The evolutionary beliefs usually dictate the interpretations.    For example, as we have seen, no one in secular geology questioned the disconnect between the geo-evolutionary assumption that dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago and the finding of flexible soft tissues in a dinosaur bone (06/03/2005, 03/24/2005).  It’s like a wife exclaiming, “Wow, look at how fresh this bone looks!” only to have the husband put his hand over her mouth and tell the reporters, “What she means is, we have just realized that soft tissue can survive 65 million years, because we all know that dinosaurs went extinct long before humans evolved.  Isn’t that right, honey?” and she nods submissively in agreement.    Evolution is an abusive spouse.  It beats research into conformity with its own needs and desires.  If geology can get a divorce from evolution, and if geologists can once again start dating outside the Darwin Party concentration camp, a union of new questions and answers might emerge from the minds of liberated researchers, and the offspring could be precocious.  For a good discussion on thinking anew, read The Right Questions by Dr. Phillip E. 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‘Game-changers’ for the Western Cape: 2015 State of the Province Address

first_imgIn her State of the Province Address delivered on Friday 20 February, Premier Helen Zille outlined the Western Cape government’s five strategic goals to build a highly skilled, innovation driven, resource efficient, connected and high opportunity society for all. Read the full speech here. The city of Cape Town. (Image: Media Club South Africa) Western Cape Premier Helen ZilleIt is my privilege today to launch the Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP): 2014-2019, as the law requires, setting out our vision and strategic priorities for our second term in office.An honest observer would accept that we made good progress during our first term towards achieving a society in which people are able to use their freedom to improve their lives, despite the many problems we face.We still have a long way to go to achieve our vision 2040 of a highly skilled, innovation driven, resource efficient, connected, and high opportunity society for all.I am not going to spend time telling “good news” stories from our previous term. Most speak for themselves. It is a pity that our opposition is only intent on searching for bad news. Let me assure them, we condemn racism every bit as much as they do. We are working day and night to build an inclusive society that eradicates the legacy of apartheid. They should not try to pretend otherwise.Instead I will focus on the years ahead, till our term ends in 2019: how we plan to create conditions for economic growth, provide better education, and deliver better health, safety and social services to our citizens. Our work is never done and the next administration will have to take up where we left off.Our new Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP) builds on the firm foundations we put in place during our first term in office. Since then our population has grown and our budgets, in real terms, are shrinking.That makes our core philosophy all the more relevant. We call it the “whole-of-society” approach, summarised in our well-known slogan, Better Together. It means that every organisation, institution, community, family and individual, has a responsibility and role to play in development. Of course, a capable state must provide the foundation and create the opportunities for them to do so. But I wish to emphasise that no government can substitute for committed, caring parents, who serve as role models for their children. This is the foundation stone of any functional society.Our PSP sets out our five strategic goals, each backed by a plan to maintain continuous improvement in the lives of citizens. These are:• Strategic goal one: Creating opportunities for growth and jobs;• Strategic goal two: Improving education outcomes and opportunities for youth development;• Strategic goal three: Increasing wellness, safety and tackling social ills;• Strategic goal four: Enabling a resilient, sustainable, quality and inclusive living environment; and• Strategic goal five: Embedding good governance and integrated service delivery through partnerships and spatial alignment.But there is an important additional element to our approach during our second term. Through widespread consultation, we have selected several priority projects, that we call “game changers”, because they have the potential to be catalysts for substantial improvements in people’s lives.We are currently busy with the detailed design of these bold, focused interventions in eight key areas.These are:• Achieving energy security;• Rapid growth in three key economic sectors with the highest potential for new jobs;• Delivery of high-speed broadband across the province;• Testing effective E-Learning models in our schools;• Creating real after-school opportunities for young people to participate in sport, cultural and academic activities;• Tackling alcohol abuse;• Providing water and decent sanitation that exceeds the basic national minimum standard; and• Pioneering an integrated living model that can pave the way for restructuring the apartheid legacy of our cities and towns.Once the detailed action plans are completed — through an intensive process we call design laboratories – we will publicly release them, together with measurable outcomes and defined timelines.Economic growth and jobs remain our number one priority. This is the only way to fight poverty in a sustainable way.The province’s economy grew by 2.3% last year, outpacing national economic growth, during a year of bleak economic prospects.The Western Cape has the lowest broad unemployment rate in the country – 24,5% – which is a full 10.1% below the national broad unemployment rate.It also has the lowest number of discouraged work seekers, at 22 000 people compared to Kwa-Zulu Natal’s 616 000 discouraged work seekers, Limpopo’s 403 000 or Gauteng’s 379 000. The broad unemployment rate (which measures discouraged work-seekers) is the only reliable measure to use. The narrow definition hides the millions of people who have given up looking for work.The number of discouraged work seekers in our province has also gone down by 33% since 2009, despite the fact that the total population in the Western Cape has grown from 5.35 million to 6.1 million over the past five years.However, youth unemployment remains a particular challenge everywhere, including the Western Cape.Until now, the biggest blockage to economic lift-off has been policy uncertainty created by national government, and the countless job-crushing laws and regulations that are described as “red tape”.But even these have now been trumped by our current energy crisis. Simply put, if there is no energy, there is no economy. The disastrous management of electricity generation, transmission and reticulation by Eskom, a state owned enterprise, has left us with a chronically unpredictable electricity supply, which drives away investment and destroys jobs.When load-shedding hits it costs the Western Cape economy hundreds of millions of Rand’s in lost productivity and investment.President Zuma obviously is not serious about solving this crisis when he insists on maintaining Eskom’s monopoly and pursuing the unaffordable Russian nuclear deal that, even if it gets off the ground, cannot deliver any power for the next 15 years. We need viable alternatives now.That is why energy security has to be a game changer. Either we have an economy or we don’t.Last week, we hosted the first design lab to identify the most effective interventions to achieve energy security, involving almost every key strategic thinker on this important topic.Energy security is the platform we need for our second game-changer, called Project Khulisa — achieving significant growth in three economic sectors best placed to create jobs.They are:• Tourism including business and leisure tourism, as well as niche tourist markets;• Agri-processing to add value to a range of agricultural products; and• Servicing the growing oil and gas sector, particularly through mid-stream services such as rig-repair.Project Khulisa also focuses on ensuring that we have the right infrastructure, services and skills to support the growth of these (and other) sectors.We already know that tourism is a major contributor to job creation in the Western Cape, pumping R17 billion into the economy and underpinning 204 000 formal jobs.However, we believe the sector can contribute even more.Benchmarking ourselves against other regions that have undertaken similar, focused initiatives, tourism has the potential to increase its contribution to the economy by another 50%, adding almost 100,000 jobs by 2019.However, it will be impossible to grow our tourism sector at the rate required if our visa regulations chase visitors away. Until recently Home Affairs seemed intent on killing South Africa’s new tourism growth market (particularly China, India and Africa) through onerous visa regulations, seemingly designed to make travellers choose destinations other than South Africa.We are pleased that during his SONA address, President Zuma promised a review of these regulations in order to strike a balance between what he termed “national security “and tourism growth.We must also try to prevent the peaks and troughs in our tourism industry by growing niche markets during the winter months.The design laboratory for our tourism action plan will draw from best international practice. We can learn a lot from Africa. Kenya, for example, through smart policies and good marketing, has grown tourism to almost a quarter of GDP and created a million additional jobs in one year.Jordan is a good example of a country that has increased its number of visitors through cultural and heritage niche markets, resulting in a 30% increase in tourism employment in that country over five years.The second of our Khulisa economic game-changers is agri-processing.Currently, the sector contributes R12 billion in goods and services to our economy and accounts for 79 000 formal jobs in the province.Using regions that have revolutionised their agri-processing sectors, we have concluded it is possible for this sector’s economic contribution to grow over 100% by 2019, adding a further 100 000 jobs. This is essential given the rate of agricultural job losses that followed the violent disruptions in the farming sector two years ago.Again, we are dependent on externalities, like reliable energy and consistent, clean water, and the macro policy climate to attract investment. If the national government would just stick to its own National Development Plan, we would be assured of progress.This requires bringing down barriers to exports and entering into trade agreements with the BRICS and fellow African countries, our natural trading partners.Appropriate skills, and high-level research and development are also critical to the success of this sector.We have identified key opportunities to address these challenges, which we are in the process of evaluating. These include:Developing specialized agri-processing parks that provide world class infrastructure, tax and energy rebates, research and development support, skills development and shared services;Improving water management through new infrastructure development and water use efficiency;andPromoting and supporting of beneficiated agricultural products in both domestic and international markets with a particular focus on products produced by small and medium enterprises.Again, many lessons come from Africa.Morocco, for example, has made great progress in the development of agri-processing clusters called “Agropoles” that are located on sites with good road connections, near ports and airports. The clusters are also served by research and development and training institutions to address specific needs in the sector.Project Khulisa’s third priority arises out of the burgeoning oil and gas sector off the African coastline. The Western Cape is ideally positioned to service both the East-West cargo traffic that is too large for the Suez Canal, and the African offshore oil and gas vessels and rigs that are drilling off the Mozambique and Namibian coasts.That is why we are investing nearly R90 million into the development of the Saldanha Industrial Zone (IDZ) over the next three financial years, in co-operation with the national government.Currently, the oil and gas sector accounts for 35 000 formal jobs in the province. Looking at similar initiatives elsewhere in the world, we estimate that we could more than double this number by 2019 under a high growth scenario where the Saldanha IDZ becomes the key logistics hub of Africa for the Oil and Gas Services Industry.However, in order to achieve this we need to overcome two major challenges.Firstly, the Saldanha Bay IDZ requires additional infrastructure to undertake rig repair at shore. Improved roads around the IDZ as well as increased energy and water provision are essential.Secondly, we lack the skills that the oil and gas sector requires. Currently there are 1700 artisans employed at the port and we will need 18 000 by 2019 to support accelerated growth in this sector.We are committed to doing what we can, within our limited budgets and competencies, to overcome these challenges in partnership with other spheres of government and the private sector.That is why we welcome the national government’s recently launched Operation Phakisa (accelerate). The first phase of the project is focused on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans.Last month, as part of this project, the Transnet Ports Authority (TNPA) and Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone Licencing Company (SBIDZ) announced that tenders are being prepared for two major infrastructure projects valued at around R10 billion for the Saldanha IDZ.The deadline for the completion of these projects is January 2018. These construction projects will make a major contribution towards establishing a flagship oil and gas services hub at Saldanha Bay in the long term and we plan to working closely with the TNPA to ensure that deadlines are met.We have already introduced a number of interventions to increase rig-repair-specific skills in the province.The provincial department of Economic Development and Tourism has targeted 1000 unemployed youth to participate in an occupational readiness programmes (ORP), to bridge their enrolment into technical and vocational training colleges (TVET) to gain the necessary qualifications.We have funding from the national Department of Trade and Industry’s SEZ fund to place these students as assistants to artisans in the engineering and construction environment.We have also launched a “Recognition of Prior Learning” project in partnership with the South African Oil and Gas Alliance using funding from the Chemical SETA. The project provides training in trade skills such as welding, boiler-making, fitting and electrical skills, which lead to formal certification.Retired artisans are also being trained as trainers, to pass their knowledge and skills to younger artisans.However, we recognise that bolder interventions are required if we want to produce almost 16 000 additional skilled workers in the next five years.This will almost certainly have to include an increase in the number of visas granted to skilled foreign nationals – something that again depends on the national government. If we want our economy to grow, we simply have to create and attract the skills we need.Let’s follow the example of Brazil that increased their work permit approval rate by 30% between 2009 and 2010, attracting 5000 skilled expatriate workers in their oil and gas sector alone, resulting in growth that, in turn, created thousands more jobs for local residents.This is necessary while we build our internal skills base.We will host design laboratories over the next few months with the oil and gas industry and further education institutions to design a “rig repair-skills action plan” with clear targets and timelines that can be implemented over the next five years.It is important to note that the three prongs of Project Khulisa will not displace the many other sectors in our economy that contribute to increasing investment, jobs and growth.For example, the Business Process Outsourcing sector remains key to the province’s economy, employing over 40 000 people, mostly youth. There are still significant opportunities to grow our province’s market share in niche segments of BPO, such as Legal Process Outsourcing. We will continue working in partnership with Business Process Enabling South Africa (BpeSA), to continue their exceptional success in marketing our province as a leader in the global contact centre industry.Establishing the Western Cape as a hub of innovative businesses also remains a top priority.During the current financial year, we have spent just over R45 million through our Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development programmes to assist new business development, with procurement support and access to finance. R36.3 million has been allocated to this programme for the 2015/16 financial year.Our Red Tape Reduction unit will continue to resolve issues that negatively affect the establishment and growth of business. Since the launch of the red tape hotline in 2012, the unit has received 3 570 complaints with an 80% resolution rate.We have also implemented regulatory impact assessments in all provincial departments and almost every municipality, because we recognise that excessive regulation kills investment and job creation.Affordable broadband connectivity is essential for economic growth. Rapid internet access increases global competitiveness, supports new businesses, grows jobs and achieves social progress.That is why access to high speed broadband to all residents of the Western Cape is also a game-changer and is already well under-way.Our government will be providing broadband connectivity to approximately 2 000 Western Cape Government sites through our partnership with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and Neotel.The number of provincial government sites that will be connected include 1,250 schools, 300 health facilities and 220 libraries by July 2016.To date, surveys at 460 sites have been completed.Neotel has also generously committed to installing WIFI hotspots at 384 Western Cape Government sites, across the province that have fibre connectivity.During the next financial year, the first 50 hotspots will go live and people within range will be able to surf the Internet for free up to a limit of 250MB per month. Once the free allocation is exhausted, users will be able to purchase additional data. Government websites will remain free for everyone.Last year, our government also partnered with non-profit organisations to deliver pilot WiFi hotspots in Delft, Robertson, Atlantis and the Garden Route. These pilots have shown an exponential increase in the number of people using them. There is a huge demand for this service, and we are determined to meet it.Fifty two hotspots have already been connected and over 51,000 unique users have been able to connect to the Internet over the past five months, with an average increase in users of 15% per month.We have also made progress in developing a Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn, an ICT incubator, in partnership with the Cape Information and Technology Initiative. It has already opened at Lookout Hill, with the official launch scheduled for the 18th of March.Finally, the first Interactive Community Access Network (ICAN) centre, is being piloted in Elsie’s River, which will be ready for launch by mid-year. The ICAN will offer a Study Zone for learners to do their homework and research projects, a Play Zone which will offer gaming, a Learn Zone that will provide free and paid-for training, as well as a Create Zone that will allow the community to experiment and hone their creative ICT talents.We are at last making significant strides in our broadband strategy despite a delay of nearly two years due to unnecessary national compliance requirements enforced through the State Information Technology Agency. However I must say that, over the past year, SITA has worked hard to add value to the project.More unnecessary national obstacles lie ahead, however. Every sensible South African was astounded to hear that the national government has awarded Telkom the monopoly for broadband roll-out nationally.This approach, announced by the President in his SONA address, and disguised in weasel words like “lead agency”, contradicts the government’s own strategy called “South Africa Connect”, which advocates open competition in the market of broadband infrastructure providers, so that users can get the most effective service at the best price.Our Constitution also requires that procurement must be done “in accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.” To ignore these requirements and to institute a monopoly for a partially state-owned enterprise, is a very serious matter, and one that will cost consumers dearly.It is telling that Telkom tendered for the Western Cape broadband contract, and was beaten in open competition by several other providers. By shielding Telkom from open competition, President Zuma has removed all incentives to produce an effective and affordable service. If Telkom’s management of the ADSL lines is anything to go by (with over a million lines still unutilised), we are in for another Eskom and Sanral experience here. This will be economically disastrous for South Africa, but very lucrative for the ANC and a few connected cadres. If you are looking for an explanation for the inexplicable, just follow the money.If you track the Telkom share price over the past few months, you will notice that its shares have gone from R11.93 in May, 2013 to R76.50 this month which strongly suggests speculation by insiders based on the privileged information that Telkom would be designated as the lead Broadband agency. If this is true, it is both criminal and corrupt. As the revered struggle hero Frank Chikane once said: every project in government is designed to make someone in the ANC rich. We are determined not to let this corruption derail our broadband roll-out.What makes the success of our broadband strategy even more critical is that our fourth game-changer, the piloting of E-Learning in our schools, depends on it.This game-changer falls under Strategic goal two: Improving Education outcomes and opportunities for youth development. I will return to the game-changer once I have outlined the elements of this strategic goal as a whole.Its four main objectives are:Improving language and mathematics in our primary schools (particularly the foundation phase);• Improving the number and quality of passes in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams;• Reducing the number of under-performing schools; and• Increasing the learner retention rate in the province – without pursuing the disastrous policy of simply progressing children through the system when they cannot make the grade.The programmes to achieve these objectives are set out in some detail in our strategic plan.Let me focus on the E-learning game changer here, which is designed to make a major contribution towards improving the quality of teaching and learning in the province and entrench the skills people need to participate in our technology-driven economy.We have allocated nearly R730 million over the next three years to establish ICT infrastructure and e-learning in schools.On the spine of the Wide Area Network, the Western Cape Education Department is developing Local Area Networks to connect our schools and classrooms.We aim to install a LAN in 610 schools (including learners with special educational needs) over the next five years.The explosion of educational material and increasingly affordable hardware, is creating a new area of technology-rich smart classrooms, including innovations such as mobile trolleys with laptops, overhead projectors and other devices to assist teaching and learning.3,350 classrooms across 248 schools will benefit from our Smart Classroom Project over the next five financial years. R53 million will be spent during the current financial year, to convert 1,583 classrooms to smart classrooms.500 of our poorest schools will also receive refreshed computer labs over the next five financial years. 126 laboratories will be completed by the end of April.It is also important that schools have access to the latest digital education resources.That is why the provincial department has initiated an E-resources catalogue on its website. Developers of digital education resources have been invited to register their materials or services in the catalogue, which provides a portal to access learning and teaching material that is aligned to the curriculum and is of the required standard.Our E-learning game changer will focus particularly on a limited number of pilot interventions to test the efficacy of resources, in teaching, learning and administration, on a demand-driven basis. This will require the development of partnerships across the education sector, including corporates who devote so much of their resources to education, without necessarily testing their impact on learner outcomes. Far too much money is still spent in education, far too little impact achieved.In order to ensure that teachers can adapt to the changes technology will bring in the classroom, our in-service teacher training will focus primarily on the use of technology and good teaching methods to convey curriculum content. This is essential for Smart Classrooms to succeed.An area, which I believe needs special attention is the foundation phase — grades R to 3. This is where our high drop-out rate begins. An alarming proportion of our children, especially in poor communities, are not learning to read, write or calculate in the foundation phase, and are usually effectively lost to education from that point on.Our systemic literacy and numeracy (LITNUM) tests — which are internationally benchmarked, independently marked and unique to the Western Cape — reveal the severity of the challenge we face. The 2014 LITNUM results saw Grade 3 learners score only 42.4% in the language test, with slightly better Grade 3 mathematics results at 54%. Tragically, the maths results in particular drop precipitately as children move through the school system.It is pleasing to see that it is possible to bring about significant improvements.For example, Wallacedene Primary school drastically improved their LITNUM results between 2013 and 2014. While the school boasted an 11% improvement in their Grade 3 Language results, it is their Grade 6 results which have seen a truly remarkable increase.The school improved its mathematics results from 9.4% in 2013 to 46.4% (about a 35% increase) in 2014 and its language results from 4.4%% to an incredible 61.9%. Minister Schafer is studying this example closely, to draw the correct conclusions from it, to find solutions that are replicable across the system.It is our duty to ensure that every child across the system is able to read fluently, write properly and calculate at the required, internationally benchmarked level at the end of Grade 3. We will be testing our approaches this year with a view to turn this into a fully-fledged game changer from the beginning of 2016. It is a personal and systemic tragedy to progress learners through the system when these basics are not in place.Over the past five years our budgets have been strongly redistributive to poor schools, and when this is accompanied by good management and committed teachers, it starts to show results. Resources on their own make little difference.This progress is most noticeable in the Metro East district, which includes disadvantaged schools in Kuils River, Blue Downs, Mfuleni and Khayelitsha.Since 2009, the district’s pass rate has increased by an impressive 15.1%. The average pass rate in Khayelitsha schools has also gone up from 53.6% to 76.1% over the past five years.We must all congratulate the principals, educators, school governing bodies and education officials who provided the leadership that made this level of improvement possible.Then there are some schools that I would call “outliers” that produce remarkable results in the most unlikely circumstances. It is my pleasure to welcome here today Mrs. Ashra Norton from the Leadership Academy in Manenberg, a school that achieved an impressive 87.5% pass rate, almost double the average of 46.2% for other high schools in the greater Manenberg area. And the learners at the Leadership Academy raked in 30 of the 33 subject distinctions across all seven high schools in Manenberg. It is significant that the Leadership Academy is an independent school that charges no fees at all. It draws its learners from one of the poorest, most violence wracked communities in this province. It has far fewer resources than most of the other schools in the area, yet it produces far, far better results. We have learnt very important lessons from the success of the Leadership Academy and we intend to replicate these lessons through innovative education models that produce better learning outcomes for poor learners.Finally, I have also invited Mrs. Margot Kiewit, principal of De Duine Senior Primary School in Lotus River, to join us today.Mrs Kiewit has shown exceptional leadership in mobilising the community to end vandalism at the school. Last year, the schools received a newly-refurbished building.Mrs. Kiewit rallied the community to prevent vandals damaging the building by organising school watches and hosting night classes for illiterate parents, thus developing the community and deterring the vandals.Mrs Kiewit’s recipe can be applied in communities everywhere, if people take ownership of the facilities the government provides for them, using them and protecting them.Another major investment in young people is proper after-school programmes.Tragically, in schools where children most need to have productive after school activities to keep them off the streets and out of the clutches of the gangs, the fewest opportunities exist.That is why our fifth game-changer focuses on expanding after-school programmes to youth across the province. We call it the Youth-With-Hope game changer and it is our major initiative to increase youth development opportunities under Strategic goal two.We aim to do this by using our Mass Participation Opportunity and Development (MOD) programme to create after-school centres of excellence, building on our partnerships with the City, non-governmental organisations and the private sector in general.We have selected 16 pilot sites across the province, with a particular emphasis on gang hotspot areas.In addition, we are planning a ‘new path’ intervention in Manenberg, where a unique opportunity exists, to transform the large vacant spaces of school land, currently primarily used as a gang war zone, to develop a pioneering and safe “Youth Lifestyle Campus”.A “Youth Lifestyle Campus” is a safe place – incorporating a number of facilities – which together can become a hive of learning, health-care, sports, arts and recreation, where young people have opportunities to do their homework, have fun and improve their lives.Plans for the Lifestyle Campus will be in incorporated in the City’s spatial framework for Manenberg, which will be completed by mid-year, and we will start by calling for proposals for innovative designs. This new “Lifestyle Campus” concept will provide real opportunities in a safe environment for the young people of Manenberg. This is the kind of space capable of producing the likes of a Kenny Solomon, South Africa’s first Chess International Grand Master who we also warmly welcome here today.Our Youth with Hope game changer will be boosted by the excellent youth mentors recruited through our Year Beyond Programme. This week I had the privilege of meeting the first 70 Year Beyond volunteers. All of them matriculants and graduates, who will be tutoring primary and high school learners in MOD centres from the beginning of the second school term.They will also earn a leadership qualification from the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Leadership Development at Stellenbosch University. The Year Beyond programme will be extended to more schools over the next few years.So will our youth cafes. Currently we have two such cafes in Rocklands and Athlone, which provide entrepreneurial skills development opportunities to young people. We will be opening three more this year in Atlantis, George and Nyanga Junction.I am excited to welcome Mr David Ndlovu, who has also joined us today. David is 22 years old and lives in Strandfontein. He is one of the hundreds of young people who have benefitted from our Youth Cafes.After being retrenched in 2013, he began visiting the Rocklands Youth Café, where he worked on a business idea. He subsequently launched his company called CIO Projects, an acronym for change, impact, opportunity, which organises events and provides life-skills training. We hope his business goes from strength to strength.Our third strategic goal is increasing wellness, and safety, and tackling social ills.This includes the provision of health care to 74% of citizens living in the province. This figure continues to grow as a result of in-migration. Our budget allocation through the equitable share formula, has not nearly kept pace, which has forced us to change our approach to meet an ever-growing demand with fewer resources. This has culminated in our Healthcare 2030 strategy, which signals an important shift from treating illness to maintaining wellness. Solely focusing on curative care is not sustainable or desirable. We have to prevent preventable diseases.This requires citizens to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing. It requires safe sex, responsible drinking, healthy eating; regular exercise, and abstaining from smoking and drug abuse.One of the least spoken about scandals in our society is that at least 60% (and that is a very conservative estimate, some put the figure at closer to 80%) of our annual health budget is spent on preventable conditions while so many unpreventable diseases and disabilities remain untreated or neglected because there isn’t enough state funding.It is the health parallel to the unnecessary cost of fixing vandalised infrastructure when we could and should be spending the money on new facilities in areas where none currently exists. Smoking, unsafe sex, unhealthy eating and excessive drinking amount to vandalism of the body. This is not a private matter. It has huge social costs.In tackling our health challenges, public-private partnerships will also remain a top priority. Last year we launched the pilot Wellness Centres project at 16 pharmacies across the province. The Western Cape Department of Health provides free HIV kits to pharmacies in exchange for at least 10% of their operating hours being spent on providing free health screenings such as HIV testing, blood pressure and blood sugar tests, helping to relieve the pressure on state clinics.Our programme to deliver chronic medication to decentralised distribution centres was expanded last year. By the end of March we will have delivered 3.3 million medication parcels to clients, who no longer have to wait all day in clinic queues to get their medicines.We will also continue to spend our R3.3 billion health infrastructure budget on upgrading existing clinics and hospitals over the next five years.Increasing safety in our communities is another key priority under Strategic goal three.While we have no jurisdiction over the police, the provincial department of community safety is doing what it can, within its limited mandate, to improve safety in our communities through innovative partnerships.These interventions include:• Providing resources to the City of Cape Town Metro Police to train and equip 30 school resource officers and 90 Law Enforcement Auxiliary (LEA) officers that will be deployed in communities where there are spikes in gang violence, allowing the police to make arrests, investigate and ensure convictions.• Providing 40 safety kiosks, in addition to the existing 20 that have been deployed across the province. These Kiosks offer a visible node in high risk areas. Supported by crime monitoring technology, they allow for co-operation between private security companies, city improvement districts, local municipalities, Law Enforcement Auxiliaries and Chrysalis graduates, who if necessary, provide rapid escalation to higher order policing.• Formalising our youth safety partnership with Northlink College which has already provided more than 2000 study opportunities, through the college’s bursary programme, to youth at risk.• Expanding the Youth Safety and Religious Organisations Partnership (YSRP) for youth during school holidays. Over 17 000 young people participated in this programme during the December holidays.The provincial department will also continue with its successful “Watching Briefs” programme. It involves a team of legal experts and post-graduate law students, supervised by a senior advocate, who monitor court cases to identify any systemic lapses by the police, which result in failures to secure convictions. So far 71 cases of policing failure have been reported to provincial South African Police Service (SAPS) management, which has resulted in 44% of these cases being reinstated on the court roll. Twenty eight of these cases led to disciplinary action being instituted against police officers who allegedly failed in their duties.Advocate Vusi Pikoli has also begun his work as the Western Cape Police Ombudsman, a South African first, made possible through the Western Cape Community Safety Act.Advocate Pikoli’s office is legally mandated to independently investigate complaints from the public about police inefficiency and/or the breakdown in relationship between the police and the community. I would like to welcome him and wish him well in his new role. It is an exceptionally important one.Finally, we remain committed to working with SAPS to implement the recommendations made by the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry. SAPS is responsible for taking the lead when it comes to most of the recommendationsHowever, we are concerned that this implementation has been delayed for many months now, due to inexplicable delays in the national Minister’s office.Improving safety on our roads also remains one of our top priorities. Key to achieving this is behaviour change amongst drivers and pedestrians.Our Safely Home team has used spatial fatalities data to identify communities most in need of intervention. We focused on specific hotspots in Nyanga, Mfuleni, Makhaza and Delft. In the five month period since the launch of the campaign there has been a 41.6% reduction in youth pedestrian fatalities.We have also focused on drunk driving, combining targeted communication campaigns with on the ground 24/7 law enforcement.Alcohol abuse is the biggest single threat to achieving our goal of increasing wellness, safety and reducing social ills in the province. Alcohol abuse fuels violence, injuries and other criminal behaviour.This is why our game changer under strategic goal three is tackling alcohol abuse.Despite the fact that 60% of South Africans abstained from alcohol in the past 12 months, the 40% of drinkers over-compensated. We are classified as one of the top five countries with the riskiest drinking patterns in the world.One of the main reasons for the high levels of alcohol abuse is that alcohol is so easily available. Most households are within a five minute walk of a cheap alcohol outlet, due to the estimated 24 000 illegal liquor outlets operating in the provinceWe believe that a plan to reduce alcohol consumption and risky drinking behaviour must focus on the social and health impact and include the following components:A strategy to address the availability of cheap liquor in communities. We are, for example, investigating alternative uses for cheap wine, such as converting it into biofuel for tractors and generators;We need to involve the liquor industry in moving beyond responsible consumption campaigns to responsible production, distribution and marketing of their products;This must have community buy-in. Communities need to support any local strategies so that they help us combat alcohol abuse including illegal shebeens. We must seek opportunities for illegal shebeen owners to find alternative business opportunities.SAPS also have a crucial role to play because they alone have the legal authority to shut down illegal shebeens. Our alcohol abuse reduction strategy must be area specific to take the local risk profile into account.We will host design laboratories over the next few months to put together a detailed plan to tackle alcohol abuse, which we will pilot in a specific community such as Nyanga where alcohol is the main driver of high levels of inter personal violence and crime.Strategic goal four is enabling a resilient, sustainable, quality and inclusive living environment in the province.We aim to do this by improving our climate change response, managing and maintaining our ecological and agricultural resource-base, creating sustainable and integrated urban and rural settlements; and ensuring better living conditions for low income and poor households.One of our key initiatives is our River Improvement Plan, which is showing substantial success, and involving surrounding communities and farmers.The project has resulted in a number of interventions such as monitoring water quality; clearing alien vegetation; and upgrading waste water treatment to ensure the river water is of acceptable quality and quantity for human consumption, farming and industrial use. If we fail to get this right we will lose our export fruit markets and hundreds of thousands of jobs.We aim to implement this plan around other river systems including the Olifants-Doorn and Breede RiversBuilding integrated sustainable human settlements remains one of our top priorities but also one of our biggest challenges.Which is why we have identified two game-changers under this strategic goal namely water and decent sanitation for all. We are also pioneering an integrated living model as a pilot for restructuring the apartheid legacy of our cities and towns.Budget constraints mean that we do not have the money to provide every person on our housing database with a formal finished house. This would cost an estimated R70 billion, which is almost double the annual budget of the entire Western Cape Government.National Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu has stated that government free housing projects are not sustainable, which is why there has been a national policy shift towards upgrading informal settlements and backyard dwellings through the provision of electricity, water and decent sanitation.Despite the Western Cape having the highest percentage of households with access to water and sanitation in the country, we recognise there is room for improvement, above the basic national norm. This game-changer will focus on achieving this outcome in consultation with communitiesI would like to introduce my last two special guests Mr. Trevor Masiy (Mussie) who is a community leader from the Langrug informal settlement near Franschoek and Mr. Addie Kumar from the Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC).Langrug is a great example of what is possible when upgrading informal settlements if we work together with a range of relevant role players.This upgrading project was led by the community in collaboration with the Stellenbosch municipality the CORC, the University of Cape Town, Shack Dwellers International and the Western Cape Government.With Masiy leading as community chairperson, residents determined their main needs and proposed solutions to problems. Many have been implemented by residents with assistance from the project partners, including opening access streets, building grey-water channels and upgrading ablution facilities.I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this ground-breaking project. It has demonstrated what can be done if communities organise to take the lead in development and welcome NGOs municipalities and the private sector as partners.Our final game changer is focused on improving spatial integration in Cape Town. Currently too many poorer families live furthest from employment opportunities and amenities. Growing urbanisation and an acute shortage of well-located and affordable housing closer to the central business district (CBD) makes this situation worse.Our game changer here will explore a new residentially-led integrated living model for human settlement. It will include not only affordable housing, but encompass a ‘live, work, play’ philosophy where residents have a range of services and opportunities close to where they live and easy access to public transport. We intend this game-changer will serve as a model to unlock other state property sites for integrated residential projects.Finally, strategic goal five seeks to embed good governance and integrated service delivery through partnerships and spatial alignment. None of our other plans can be realised without a capable state and strong partnerships with all stakeholders in our society. We have established a strong working relationship with the City of Cape Town and many local authorities in the provinces. And our philosophy of partnerships extend to every stakeholder in society.That then is the plan, in broad outline. Drill deeper, and there will be an enormous amount of detail in the plans we are crafting to turn vision into action and outcome.This would be impossible without the magnificent team, led by the Director General and many others who work day and night to make the promise of a better life for all, a lived reality for our people.We are working for the Western Cape to succeed, so that South Africa can succeed.Thank you.last_img read more

Interview: Andrew Shulkind, DP Behind The Ritual

first_imgWe talked with the DP of The Ritual about the challenges of remote locations, mixing multiple camera formats, and technological landscape of the industry.All images via Netflix.DP Andrew Shulkind had to overcome a number of production challenges in the process of shooting the Netflix Original film The Ritual. Here’s what he had to say about the project and the state of filmmaking today.PremiumBeat: What was the process like for transporting and carrying all of this heavy production gear into the woods to shoot the film?Andrew Shulkind: You know, it is funny — I have spoken to a bunch of press, but we have never spoken about this. First of all, it was a UK production, and so there was a different kind of health and safety department that is committed to this kind of production. We are on steep mountainsides. The grips rigged a pulley system with a motor and a wench that was taking gear up the steep hill. Another thing was, of course, as you are scouting, you’re preparing people for the level of challenge they are going to have to endure. For example, This is going to be an insane cable run, or How can we land the generator easier? We are looking at Google maps to find other roads that might be nearby. We relied heavily on balloons. We also built some custom LEDs that we can use with battery power and not have to run some insane cables to get some good depth in the background.PB: You had a three-camera marriage going on between the Canon C300 Mark II, the Canon C700, and the Alexa mini. So, can you talk about combining those formats?AS: So, the C700 wasn’t available when we first started. We then had a pre-production model, a kind of prototype model that had a bunch of these Japanese characters on the outside. Even if I had access to that camera from the beginning, I wouldn’t have used it for everything we did because we were running around — we did a bunch of Steadicam and other lightweight gimbal work. That was where the C300 really killed it. I had done a movie with that camera prior, and the C200 too, and just knew what we could get out of it. I knew what was possible in terms of low light. The Alexa was something that we used all the time.PB: How was matching those cameras in the color suite?AS: It was nothing really — it was just two cameras.PB: So, what kind of advice do you have for aspiring cinematographers who are starting out or at pivotal points in their careers?AS: This is kind of a big question. I think our business is growing in a different direction. There is a big opportunity for up-and-comers like there may never have been before. Now we are kind of entering a new space which includes interactivity, and it includes mobile-first activity. The fact is that movies are not the gold standard that everyone thought they were 65-70 years ago. So, I think in terms of getting out there, getting your work seen, you have to be able to really hone your craft.PB: I think your comment about movies and content is really interesting because episodic content is becoming king. In regards to your previous comments: are you looking at pursing more episodic content, or do you want to stay with hour-and-a-half narratives?AS: Honestly, I will like to do it all. I feel more valuable doing it all. I feel more relevant doing all of those. First of all, moving toward episodic doesn’t necessarily mean it is about networks like Netflix or Amazon. I think there are players out there and platforms that we don’t even know about yet in other countries. So, there are a million ways for people to see content online — it is more democratized. I feel personal responsibility to kind of stay involved not only in that space and movies but also commercials.  I think people segment too much into “I am a TV guy,” “I am a movie guy,” “I am a video guy.” Because, if a movie person is never doing episodic, if a movie person is never doing something that is in the commercial space, then the commercial space is missing that talent. It enriches you as a cinematographer and storyteller to participate in all those different ways of storytelling — they have all the same rudiments.Something that I am really finding myself doing a lot more is I speak and talk and deal with the topics addressing responsible uses of data and technology and how we have moved from being the visual, film-and-television-in-advertising business to being the experiential business. The experiential business trickles down to everything we make: the choices that we make, what choice we can make. But we are kind of entering the golden age of imaging, which will require you to surf the tide of emerging technology and being able to figure out what to integrate. There is a lot of opportunity, but I think it also requires us to bring the artistry and keep the storytelling part of the conversation.PB: So you’re becoming a proponent and advocate for creating and producing rich storytelling content with a purpose?AS: Yeah, so I was watching Planet Earth the other day, and there was some bird on Iceland that’s waiting for its mate. And there is a story of a bunch of penguins waiting and watching it. It’s just a simple story — it’s a bird moving around and anticipating something, but the edit is so tight, and it’s beautiful, and it’s shallow focus, and the color is amazing, and it’s 4k, and it is super sharp and HDR, and there’s a little story to it. You see the difference between that and just a random kind of documentary on Iceland, and it’s impressive. I think honestly it’s something that we connect to just as humans, like that’s the core thing.  I don’t see people talking about that kind of storytelling so much in the brand space and the data space and only because they don’t know. Those responsibilities are usually given to the new media guy, and so a lot of time there isn’t the same attention. Not that it is a bad thing, but these new media outlets should be giving the same kind of attention to storytelling.PB: Brands are really becoming storytellers in ways they never have been before.AS: I think if we are not careful, we are going to end up with a bunch of weak content that doesn’t take advantage of the innovation we have out there.Looking for more filmmaking interviews? Check these out.Interview: Showtime Docuseries Cinematographer from The TradeInterview: 7 Filmmaking Tips for Creating Retro ’80s ActionBehind The Scenes: Crafting The Stylized Naturalism of Bomb City with DP Jake WilganowskiThe Disaster Artist: Editing A Film About Making a FilmInterview: The Director and The Producer Behind “Man on Fire”last_img read more

HMM Sets Sights on 22000 TEU Boxship Order

first_imgzoom South Korean shipping company Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) plans to join the 22,000 TEU ownership club as the company’s CEO has revealed plans to order these megaships in 2018.Speaking at 2018 Sales Strategy Meeting, held on December 18, HMM President & CEO C.K. Yoo said that the 22,000 TEU newbuilding construction project will be in accordance with the national expectation for “being a leading shipping nation.”“HMM is now located in the good position to be a world-class leading shipping company by overcoming new environmental regulations starting from 2020,” Yoo said. “During the last year, HMM has faced many changes such as regaining customer trust, recovering profitability, and ranking #1 in service reliability etc,” he added.HMM identified education of its manpower and achieving innovative growth through Blockchain technology, as key strategic objectives for next year.In addition, securing profitability based on the overseas terminal belt US West Coast – Pusan – Kaohsiung – Algeciras – Rotterdam, was discussed as well, together with the deployment of new vessels, the opening of new services, expanding business network and cutting operating costs.The 22,000 TEU order has been rumored for quite some time on the market, however, this is the first time that the plans have been officially confirmed.last_img read more