The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is around the corner, starting on 17 January. We take a look at South Africa’s message from Davos to the world.Team South Africa is briefed during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos on 21 January 2016. (Image: The Presidency, via Flickr)Brand South Africa reporterTwo elements are at the heart of South Africa’s global message from the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting: the country has a stable economy and is an attractive investment destination.This year’s overall theme for the meeting, taking place as always in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, is “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”. It runs from 17 to 20 January.Speaking to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the WEF theme was important to ensure societies became more inclusive. Team South Africa, he said, would show that the country was a desirable investment destination.“Responsive and responsible leadership is fascinating both for us, the globe, whichever sector you come from and what is responsible leadership as they see it; it is about integrity and about understanding the environment in a holistic way so that you become part of a co-ordinated effort that they refer to,” Gordhan said.A progressive and transforming economyAmid challenging global economic conditions, there had been significant progress in the country, the Economic Development Department said in a 2016 assessment called The Future of the South Africa Economy from the Mirror of 2016: A review of economic development in 2016.“The economy avoided going into a recession in part through the collective action of business, labour and communities working with government, though growth remained very modest,” the report reads.Although 2016 was a tough year around the world, South Africa’s economy showed resilience. It has more than doubled in size since 1994 and the tax base has increased substantially.The Global Markets Publication said the country had the “best sovereign debt management operations and issuer” in sub-Saharan Africa, the finance minister noted in his medium term budget in October 2016. The World Bank also commended the country’s debt management, describing South Africa as “better positioned to absorb fiscal shocks going forward”.By limiting spending in government, creating dialogue across the nation and following international best practices of improving healthcare, education and social security, South Africa is gradually transforming its economy to be more inclusive.“Economic transformation was a key theme in 2016 and we made significant strides in opening the economy to new black-owned companies and expanding levels of youth entrepreneurship,” said the Economic Development Department.Investment and infrastructure“Investment is about confidence,” joint co-ordinator of the CEO’s Initiative, Jabu Mabuza, told the SABC. “That is why we have been working with government and labour in building confidence. We don’t get money from keeping the money in the bank; we are working with government to invest more.”Mabuza said business had been working with different stakeholders to boost business confidence, which was critical when companies decided where they wanted to invest.Tapping into the country’s oceans economy, R17-billion had been invested and 5,000 jobs created, Gordhan said in his October mini budget. “Licences for oil and gas exploration have been issued as part of the sector growth strategy.”State-owned entities would also be integral to continued growth of the economy and to drive development.Further investment – an estimated R987-billion over three years – would be made into the National Infrastructure Plan, said the department.The CEO Initiative is a group of about 90 chief executives and business leaders working with the government and labour to build confidence in the economy and reignite sustainable economic growth.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
Bacteria, which have been working for millennia as nature’s stonemasons, could soon be enlisted to help neutralize the destructive effects of road salt.According to the Transportation Research Board, it takes about 10 million tons of road salt to keep roads safely navigable in the winter. And while it’s certainly an effective method for staving off snow and ice, around this time of year, we start to see the toll it takes on our infrastructure in the form of cracks, potholes, and bumps.It turns out, those bumps aren’t just the inevitable annoyances that come with wear and tear — they’re actually caused by a chemical that forms when road salt reacts with the surface of roads, bridges and sidewalks that are made from white-gray concrete.As a civil materials engineer at Drexel University, I spend my time teaching and developing advanced materials that we can use to build more robust roads, bridges, buildings and infrastructure.The concrete killerThe chemical causing the havoc is called calcium oxycholoride — CAOXY, in chemistry shorthand — and it forms when a common type of road salt, calcium chloride, reacts with the calcium hydroxide that is an ingredient in concrete.CAOXY is a destructive component. When it forms inside concrete, it expands, creating internal distress and cracks that are then amplified by the chiseling effect of the freeze-thaw cycle.CAOXY forms when calcium hydroxide, an ingredient in concrete, reacts with a common road salt called calcium chloride. [Image Credit: Yaghoob Farnam]According to the U.S. Federal Highway Association, winter road maintenance accounts for roughly 20% of state department of transportation maintenance budgets, through spending more than $2.3 billion on snow and ice control. This does not include the billions of dollars needed to repair infrastructure damage caused by snow, ice, and deicing salts; to fix potholes; to patch and reinforce roads; and to deal with the corrosion that salt causes on the metal parts of vehicles. The annual direct losses caused by corrosion on U.S. highway bridges are estimated at $276 billion, approximately 3.1% of the nation’s gross domestic product.While research is underway to develop new types of concrete, such as self-heating concrete, that can melt snow and ice without the need for road salt, it might be more feasible to treat roads with something that would still allow the salt to do its job while counteracting its negative side effects by preventing the formation of CAOXY.Bacterial blockers derailing chemical reactionMy multidisciplinary group at Drexel University, which includes civil, environmental, and materials engineers, decided that any antidote for CAOXY-related damage would need to prevent the chemical reaction that forms it. But curtailing the reaction is tricky because it can occur at temperatures above freezing. This means that CAOXY can start forming almost as soon as the salt hits the road.One of the best ways to block the reaction from happening is to make sure there aren’t enough ingredients for it. So, we wanted to create another chemical reaction that could use up the calcium in road salt before it reacted to form CAOXY.Nature provided the perfect solution in the form of some talented bacteria.On the other side of our lab, students were examining bacteria called Sporosarcina pasteurii to understand how they performed their magic. The bacteria, which are commonly found in the soil, have the unique ability to convert nutrients and calcium into calcium carbonate or calcite — also known as limestone, a common stone in Earth’s crust. This bacterium, S. pasteurii, is credited with depositing limestone as a binder (or glue), aiding the formation of coral reefs and helping to bind and stabilize soil.But the S. pasteurii findings that interested my colleagues and me were discovered about 15 years ago in Europe. This research showed how bacteria like S. pasteurii could make their own sort of concrete, a biomortar, that could be used to repair damaged marble surfaces, such as sculptures or historical buildings.Through their metabolism of the nutrients, the bacteria produce an enzyme that acts as a catalyst for calcite formation. The process also increases the alkaline nature of the surrounding environment, which also enables the reaction.Our group was hoping to put the bacteria to work repairing cracks in concrete, most of which has limestone as its main ingredient. The breakthrough came when we noticed one of the primary ingredients S. pasteurii needed to make its limestone is calcium.Could the little bacterial masons help us thwart CAOXY?Where the S. pasteurii meets the roadWe put our idea to the test using samples of ordinary portland cement, the kind used to build roads, bridges, and sidewalks. In addition to a control sample that was made with no bacteria, we treated one sample in the lab with S. pasteurii and nutrient solution.Then, we exposed our samples to calcium chloride solution at varying temperatures, to simulate the winter environment in which a typical road salt-concrete interaction occurs.When calcium hydroxide (from the concrete) mixes with the road salt calcium chloride in the presence of bacteria, the microbes produce limestone that patches the road. [Image credit: Yahhoob Farnam]By measuring temperature changes indicative of CAOXY formation, measuring CAOXY amount, and monitoring the acoustics of the samples with small sensitive microphones for the sounds of cracking, we saw that the bacteria-treated samples were left unscathed.And the S. pasteurii actually converted some of the road salt into calcite that helped to seal up the micropores that are precursors to cracks and potholes.So, can using bacteria before the salt assault really save us from road damage? I think so.S. pasteurii are a particularly hardy type of harmless bacteria that can be found in soil. They can form spores in order to survive in a wide range of temperatures and high- or low-acidity environments. This means they may lie dormant in the off-season and spring into action with the first road salting of the winter. And more importantly, the calcium carbonate they form seems to be harmless to their immediate ecosystem – unlike road salt, which is known to affect nearby aquatic environments by the end of the season.Of course, more work is needed to fully understand the interactions of S. pasteurii with deicing salt and its effect on concrete performance. My colleagues and I don’t yet know how quickly bacteria perform this chemical reaction, and we are working on promising ways for how we would add the bacteria to the roads in a real world situation. But this is a path worth pursuing, because it’s unlikely we’ll be able to kick our addiction to road salt any time soon.Yaghoob Farnam, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Drexel University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Two security force personnel were killed and six others were injured as Maoists went on the rampage in various parts of Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh on Monday.The increased Maoist activities in Bijapur have exacerbated the problems of the security establishment in the State even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the district on April 14 for a function. Immediate impactThe Maoists triggered an IED (Improvised Explosives Device) blast near Tumla village on Kutaru road of Bijapur, targeting a bus in which some District Reserve Guard (Chhattisgarh police’s special anti-Maoist unit) jawans were travelling.Constable Lakhan Gawade, who was driving the bus, and head constable Anand Rao, were killed in this blast. ASI Bhojraj Morya and four DRG constables — Monaj Wacham, Sukhram Mandavi, Masaram Madiyam, Payaku Alam — suffered injuries in the blast.In a separate incident, the Maoists triggered two disparate IED blasts in Mahadev Ghat area of Bijapur when a team of the Central Reserve Police Force was carrying out a search operation in the area.
Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud in a dissenting opinion said that the Additional Solicitor General had stated that there was no basis to the Maharashtra government’s theory linking the five activists arrested by the Pune Police to a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister.In his opinion, Justice Chandrachud said, “Such an allegation is indeed of a serious order. Such allegations require responsible attention and cannot be bandied about by police officers in media briefings. But during the course of the present hearing, no effort has been made by the ASG to submit that any such investigation is being conducted in regard to the five individuals.”He further pointed out, “On the contrary, he [ASG] fairly stated that there was no basis to link the five arrested individuals to any such alleged plot against the Prime Minister. Nor does the counter affidavit makes any averment to that effect.”His opinion dissenting with the majority view of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar raises questions over the claims made by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the day of the judgment and by the Maharashtra Police in a press conference held last month.The Supreme Court Bench had heard the petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others alleging that the arrest of poet Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha were made under questionable circumstances.Mr. Fadnavis, in his hurriedly called press conference on Friday morning after the apex court’s judgment, had welcomed the order and claimed that his government possessed “large number of evidences against these individuals who are conspiring against the nation, plotting the assassination of the country’s Prime Minister and pitting castes against each other”.The Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), Maharashtra, in his press conference last month had said that the activists arrested were all working to further the designs of banned organisations that were plotting to carry out a ‘Rajiv Gandhi-like’ assassination to end ‘Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) Raj’.Justice Chandrachud has also raised questions over the impartiality and independence of the Maharashtra Police. His judgment read, “All this has certainly a bearing on the basic question as to whether the Maharashtra Police can now be trusted to carry out an independent and impartial investigation.”
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Atlanta attacker Almiron risks pricing himself out of Newcastle moveby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveAtlanta United attacker Miguel Almiron could price himself out of a move to Newcastle United.The Mirror says Almiron could be offered as much as £70,000 a week to make a January move to Newcastle. The 25-year-old is believed to want more than £90,000 a week, however.Almiron, of Paraguay, plays for Atlanta United in the MLS and scored 13 goals in 37 appearances this term.Toob boss Rafa Benitez wants to add in January as he’s wary that both Ki Sung-yueng and Yoshinori Muto have been called up by their respective nations in the Asian Cup.
Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa: Beating Watford so importantby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga believes they’re back on track after victory at Watford.Kepa meet Crystal Palace later today.”After the Leicester game at home, we wanted to bounce back,” said Kepa. “We were great in the first half, then in the second half Leicester were better than us. We found it hard.”After the Leicester game it was important to get back on track and there’s no better way to get back on track than beating a great team away from home.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
TagsTransfersLoan MarketAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd academy chief Parry explains loan club selectionby Paul Vegas10 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United academy player performance manager Les Parry admits they’re careful with the clubs they select for their loan players.Parry has discussed the process that United staff members go through before deciding upon a destination.He said: “We draw up a player’s needs before we start the process.”I’m not kidding that we tick every box, because we can’t, but there have been a few clubs for one or two players, that we didn’t think were suitable.”On the face of it, it might look a good move, but we didn’t think it was, for one reason or another, so we looked elsewhere.”
colin cowherd joel klatt high on michigan stateMichigan State has an all-important contest this Saturday, as the Spartans take on undefeated Iowa in the Big Ten title game. The contest, which is being played between the No. 4 and No. 5 ranked teams in the College Football Playoff rankings, is a de facto national quarterfinal.Thursday, FOX Sports radio host Colin Cowherd and guest Joel Klatt debated whether they believe the Spartans are capable of not just winning that game – but winning the national championship. Both do, citing Connor Cook, the team’s offensive line and the fact that they’re getting healthy at the right time.Michigan State and Iowa kick off at 8:00 PM on FOX.
The rooks and kings traveled around for what seemed like an eternity. But the lava that had flowed over the game earlier in the day had finally cooled — and finally (finally!) hardened into a draw. Here’s the whole dang thing, compressed into less than a minute: It was 55 degrees and lightly raining in London, just as I imagine it always is, as the grandmasters Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Fabiano Caruana of the United States sat down to begin playing for the 2018 World Chess Championship. The gray meteorology belied the volcanic and lengthy chess on Day 1 of the World Chess Championship. Over seven hours and 115 moves, the players fought a fiery and oscillating battle to open the match, which will likely stretch to the end of the month. The American was lucky to emerge, largely unscathed, with a draw.The players’ venue is in central London, in a place called The College, about a 15-minute walk north of the Thames. Carlsen, 27, and Caruana, 26, are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively. Carlsen is the three-time defending world champion. Caruana is vying for the first American title since Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in 1972.Following a drawing of lots, Carlsen chose to begin the best-of-12-game match on defense with the black pieces. Wins here are worth 1 point, draws a half-point for each, and losses zero points. If the 12th game ends with each player having 6 points, a series of tiebreaker games will ensue. And that’s exactly what happened at the last world championship, in 2016, when Carlsen edged out Sergey Karjakin of Russia. There may still be a lot of chess left.But there was a lot of chess Friday, too. Carlsen began with the combative Sicilian Defence, and the two entered into something called its Rossolimo Variation. Carlsen was likely pleased — he had beaten Caruana in this very variation in an attacking game in 2015.After move 9, Caruana went into what the official match broadcast called the first “deep think” of the match, and the game ground to a near-halt as the position ventured into uncharted territory. By Caruana’s 11th move, a board like this had never been seen before at the game’s high levels, according to ChessBase’s database.Carlsen donned a puffy jacket. Caruana removed his blazer.Time soon became an issue. The players each get 100 minutes for their first 40 moves, with 30 bonus seconds after each move. After that, they get 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for any moves after that. Nevertheless, while contemplating his 22nd move, Caruana’s clock ticked down to less than 10 minutes. Carlsen, across the board, moved quickly. With his 25th move, Caruana’s clock had dropped to six minutes. On his 32nd move, less than two minutes. On his 34th move, 6 seconds. If his clock had hit zero, he would have forfeited the game instantly.Forestalling the end, Caruana fought for his life in the lower right corner of the board. The time pressure — and the pressure from the powerful pieces controlled by the best player in the world — were obviously too much to handle. It was over, and the players would surely head to an early dinner. The computer engines and the chess cognoscenti assessed Carlsen’s position as “surely winning” and Caruana’s as “sad.”Carlsen’s troops were standing over Caruana’s king, ready to kill and take a devastating early lead in the championship.But black slipped. The Norwegian champ captured a juicy-looking pawn he oughtn’t have, giving the American a chance to scurry to safety with seconds to spare. You can see what happened below. Carlsen, playing black, captured the pawn on c3 with his bishop. The better move, according to a chess engine whirring on my laptop, would have been to venture deep into the American’s territory, moving the black queen to g1. Carlsen’s advantage, according to the computer, dropped from roughly three pawns to roughly nothing. Despite the draw, Robert Hess, an American grandmaster, called it a “dominant start for Magnus.”The championship is level at a half-point each in this race to 6.5. We’ll keep the chart below updated throughout the match.
The conversation about Ohio State’s defense is changing inside and outside the huddle. The Buckeyes, which limited a hapless, anemic Illinois offense to 170 yards in a 52-22 shellacking on Saturday, moved to 10-0 and one step closer to the program’s first undefeated season since 2002. And while the Illini’s own incompetence and 118th national ranking in total offense might have helped OSU’s Silver Bullets, sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier said the talk in the huddle among members of the once much-maligned defense is different than what it was before. “It just got a lot easier to talk to each other, everybody’s gonna have each other accountable for everything,” said Shazier, who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after a 14-tackle outing Saturday. “Now when we go in the huddle, we don’t talk about ‘Don’t let the big play happen, don’t let this, don’t let that’ – we just go in there talking about ‘We need a turnover, three-and-out, get the offense the ball.’” This just might be reflective of a defense coming of age, particularly after surrendering 49 points on the road against a now 4-5 Indiana squad. Though the Buckeyes left Bloomington, Ind., with a shaky 52-49 win, first-year coach Urban Meyer approached the contest’s postgame press conference arguably as disgusted as he’d been all season. Meyer even hinted at taking a more active role in a defense that had given up 87 points in back-to-back weeks. But now? After allowing 22 and 23 points in wins against Purdue and at Penn State, respectively, Meyer said improvement on the defense’s part has been evident. “Ever since the Indiana debacle in the second half, I’ve seen pretty much four-to-six seconds,” Meyer said regarding the level of effort he’s come to expect out of the Buckeyes. “And I see a lot of hard coaching going on. And that’s what I expect out of our staff.” It’s a line Meyer’s used since he came to Columbus in Nov. 2011-4-6 seconds, he said, of relentless effort, relentless pursuit on every play of every game. By the former Florida coach’s calculations, it’s enough to win football games. OSU cornerback redshirt sophomore Bradley Roby said the defense is getting back to that pillar of Meyer’s coaching philosophy. “Since the Indiana game we had a lot of serious meetings and we had to get it done on defense, and that’s what we’ve been doing lately,” he said. Like Meyer, Roby said the game against the Hoosiers was a “wake up call.” “We were like, ‘Man, we’re way better than this.’ Ever since then we been practicing harder and playing harder and it’s been showing,” Roby said. Arguably, such progression had never been so apparent before Saturday in a game which saw OSU secure more first downs (32) than the Illini had points. In reality, OSU’s defense gave up just 14 points, considering eight of Illinois’ points came off a 77-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the game’s fourth quarter. Illini junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase mustered just 96 yards and an interception against an OSU front-seven that harassed him from start to finish. “From what I saw he was just running around all day,” Roby said. While Scheelhaase was sacked twice, the Buckeyes’ defensive line appeared to be getting enough of a push to allow its linebackers, Shazier included, to slam the door shut on runs to the outside and entrench themselves against short, dump-off passes over the middle. “It’s pretty fun when the coaches let the team loose and let us go after the ball,” Shazier said. “I’ve been playing like this mentality for all my life, see ball, get ball.” That aggressiveness, however, might only be made possible because of a more aware defense. OSU assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said players are comprehending, perhaps now more than ever, what’s happening on any given play. “The biggest deal is I think our kids in the back seven are starting to understand when we get this formation, these are the two or three things that will happen,” Withers said. “Everybody’s recognizing exactly what they need to see in that formation.” And if Illinois is any indication, it might be working. “We knew exactly what was coming before they even ran it sometimes,” Shazier said. With a bye this weekend, OSU travels to Wisconsin on Nov. 17 for its second-to-last game of the 2012 season.