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SA Ambassador Supports Council of Churches’ Rejection of ‘Christian State’

first_imgSouth African Ambassador to Liberia, Vanapalan Punjanathan Moodley, has welcomed the Liberia Council of Churches’ decision, distancing itself from calls by some Christians to legislate Liberia a “Christian nation.”At a press conference on May 4, Ambassador Moodley said his country is a secular state where everyone is free to worship in whatever way they like.He said secularism allows everyone to feel a part of the country without feeling excluded, because it promotes peaceful coexistence that no one will feel superior over the other.In response to a question whether he is not interfering in Liberian politics, Ambassador Moodley said “We are not interfering into Liberian politics, because we have to comment on an issue that has the propensity to stir confusion.”He emphasized that making a country a religious state does not matter, but how the religion is preached and the impact it makes on humanity matters.In a related development, Ambassador Moodley’s said young people have to drive the kind of positive change they want to see in their society, and young Liberians should constructively advocate in the absence of violent protest.He said South Africa’s liberation movement was started by and greatly enhanced by young people with other African countries consolidating the effort.Concerning development, he said “Everyone wants to see things happen in their favor at once, but development takes time to come and cannot be done by a single person.”He said while South Africa has made progress in infrastructural development and bringing water, electricity and housing facilities to its citizens, it is yet to economically liberate its citizens in totality.On press freedom, the Ambassador noted that although freedom of the press and expression is a vital right that people should exercise, the media needs to be balanced in its reportage; considering all sides of issues and report fairly and clearly.“The government is criticized in many publications; yes, criticizing is not bad, but let the media also look at the good things the government is doing and equally report it, rather than just criticizing as though nothing good is happening,” Ambassador Moodley said.The Liberia Council of Churches announced recently in a statement signed its president Bishop Jonathan B.B. Hart rejecting the call by some Liberians to make Liberia a ‘Christian State’ by law, which is known as Proposition #24.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Govt in flagrant breach of labour laws – Union

first_img50 per cent severance pay…more protests likelyAcknowledging receipt of information that Government is getting ready to pay 50 per cent of the severance due retrenched sugar workers, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has expressed disappointment with the Government’s continued refusal to pay redundant sugar workers their full severance due.Speaking to this publication on Thursday, GAWU President, Komal Chand, took the Government to task for the continued deferment of full payment in this regard. He argued that the decision breaches the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act.“They ought, in the first place, to have a month’s notice after the issue would have been discussed with (the workers’) union,” Chand said, reading from the legislation. “Having reached that point, they (have to) provide the employees with their notices. They ought to get, at the end of the notice, their severance pay. Those people that GuySuCo paid severance to so far, that has been complied with,” he explained.“But this large number (4000), they have not complied with that stipulation. The notice expired on the 29 December, and they were expected to be paid by then. But the most fundamental point is that the payment ought to be done altogether. In fact, it is due since December,” Chand furthered.Chand explained that the severance pay for each worker is approximately $1 million, with differences in the sum according to work description. He noted that with this full sum, workers caught unprepared by the closure of estates would have been cushioned and empowered to get back on their feet.Chand said the payment of half the sum due the workers is unacceptable, and is an “eye-pass” to the workers. He also said that even the $100 million set aside for training workers is inadequate, as it works out to approximately $25,000 per worker.“The law ought to be respected, and (no less a person than) the President ought to respect the law. He is the President, and this is a bad example (he is setting). You set a bad precedent for other Government agencies to do the same, and private employers could follow suit and delay workers’ entitlement, like severance pay, for longer periods. So we hope that more people will come out and speak. It’s an important principle, and it’s a legal entitlement,” Chand declared.According to Chand, the GAWU does not buy Government’s argument that it cannot find the money to pay workers their full due. He posited that a bank loan could be obtained, and noted that once the Government guarantees a bank loan, then an entity (in this case GuySuCo) would have no difficulty in securing a bank loan.ProtestsChand also noted the likelihood of further protests even after the announcement of half payments of severance. According to Chand, the workers on the ground are themselves pushing for more protests in order to get their due.“I came from Berbice this morning. There was a large turnout of workers, and they were very much dismayed, having heard the President’s statement yesterday. And they asked us, ‘Let us go back and have more protests!“And they (said they) would get their children and their spouses to come out. (They said) that they just can’t accept this. And so the mood is now developing for stronger protests over this issue.”Government announced on Wednesday that it would pay 50 per cent of the severance benefits to dismissed sugar workers by the end of this month. This commitment represents more than $2 billion in severance payments.This announcement was made in the National Assembly by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who read a statement from President David Granger. The remainder of the severance would be paid in the second half of the year.This move comes one day after disgruntled workers attached to the former Rose Hall Sugar Estate protested for their severance payment as they demanded that the Government get its act together.Eight hundred and fifty workers, whose last day of employment was December 29, on Tuesday protested the non-payment of millions of dollars which are collectively owed to them by the David Granger Administration and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).last_img read more

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Aero India 2015 LIVE Modi Not Content With Assembling Defence Equipment Wants

first_img4:56 PM: With $250 billion expected to be spent on defence, India asserted itself at the on-going Aero Expo. The Prime Minister asked defence contractors winning bids to supply India not only the equipment but also the technology behind the equipment.India’s offsets policy requires defence contractors to invest a specified percentage on the total value of the deal to be invested in India, which will now be recaliberated to encourage further technology transfer and move away from mere assembling and local production.”We have the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipment. This may be music to the ears of some of you. But this is an area where we do not want to be number one,” the Prime Minister said, according to Reuters.”It will no longer be enough to buy equipment and simply assemble here.”3:29 PM: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar noted that the Defence Ministry was undergoing  major offsets, of which, some are “in chaos”. Major changes to rules and regulations expected to boost the small and medium enterprises.3:20 PM: Pictures from Aero India 2015. IAF aircrafts perform aerobatics during the Aero India-2015 Air Show, at Yelahanka Air-force Station, in Bengaluru on Feb 18, 2015. (Photo: IANS) IAF aircrafts perform aerobatics during the Aero India-2015 Air Show, at Yelahanka Air-force Station, in Bengaluru on Feb 18, 2015. (Photo: IANS) IAF aircrafts perform aerobatics during the Aero India-2015 Air Show, at Yelahanka Air-force Station, in Bengaluru on Feb 18, 2015. (Photo: IANS)2:54 PM: Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar addresses press conference at Aero India 2015, hints at a dedicated ‘Make in India’ policy in defence of SME manufacturers.2:52 PM: Crowds throng stalls representing Israeli and Chinese weapon manufacturers.2:33 PM: A 1932 aircraft named ‘Tiger Moth’ takes to the air. The aircraft, restored for current year’s show, is participating for the first time in an aero show. 12:49 PM: India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to address a press conference soon.Prime Minister Narendra Modi declares Aero India 2015, Asia’s largest air show, open on Wednesday in Bengaluru. He used the occasion to make a strong case for indigenisation of defence equipment, in line with his ambitious “Make in India” programme.”A nation with a strong defence industry will not only be more secure. It will also reap rich economic benefits,” Modi said at the 10th edition of the biennial event, which is being attended by more than 300 global defence equipment makers eyeing one of the world’s lucrative arms market.He added, “It can boost investment, expand manufacturing, support enterprise, raise the technology level and increase economic growth in the country.”The Air Force Station at Yelahanka in the British-era garrison city is hosting the five-day international version of the aerospace and aviation industry. Visitors cheer as they watch Russian Knights, the aerobatic team of the Russian Air Force, performing in their Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-27UB fighter aircraft during “Aero India 2013″ on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 8, 2013.Reuters’Make in India’ – Beginning of a new era”This is the beginning of a new era for the defence industry in India,” said Modi, emphasising the emergence of India as a major global centre for defence industry, reports IndiaToday.The Prime Minister spoke of the need to improve India’s defence preparedness and develop defence systems under the “Make in India” programme.”We will build an industry that will have room for everyone – public sector, private sector and foreign firms. From sellers, foreign firms must turn into strategic partners,” Modi said. Modi called on the international defence firms to set shop in India so that the country becomes part of their global supply-chain, according to The Hindu.”We need their technology, skills, systems integration and manufacturing strength. The nature of industry is such that imports will always be there. In turn, they can use India as part of their global supply chain,” Modi added.”Defence output will double if domestic procurement goes up from 40 pc to 70 pc in next five years,” Modi said.The Prime Minister stressed upon the need to reduce imports in the defence sector, adding that even a reduction by 20-25% in imports, would create direct jobs of 1 lakh to 1.2 lakh highly skilled jobs.He noted that if India is to increase local procurement of defence equipment from 40% to 70% over the next five years, it will results in doubling of India’s defence output.Domestic and International ParticipationAero India 2015 is being attended by about 600 companies, of which about 295 are Indian firms and the rest, global companies.Fifty-four ministerial and high-level delegations from various arms-exporting nations are also participating in the expo. A total of 34 countries are participating this year, which is said to be the largest and most expansive in the history of the show. The US is represented by 64 companies, followed by France with a presence of 58 companies. Besides, manufacturers from the UK, Russia and Israel will also have strong participation at the event. The Israeli defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon is also in India, bringing with him a huge contingent of chief executives of major defence companies.Organisers expect the exhibition to expand by almost 50% over the 15 lakh visitors in 2013.Cult FollowingAero India sees throngs of aviation aficionados descending at the venue to witness spectacular stunts performed by pilots from across the world, flying fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters. Display of flying skills by aerobatic teams enthrall visitors at the show. The airshow would see stunts and aerobatic displays by the Indian Air Force, air display teams from Chezh Republic, Sweden and the UK. An open sky jump by the US Special Forces is also planned, said The Financial Express.French defence giant Dassault has bought three Rafale fighter aircraft to showcase the aerobatic capabilities of an aircraft, shortlisted by the IAF for 126 next generation fighter aircraft. Talks have broken down over local manufacturing clauses.Made in India equipment India would have on display its indigenously developed Tejas single engine aircraft, after decades of development.The display includes 11 aircrafts of which seven come from US – one C-17 Globemaster III, a Boeing KC-135 tanker , two F-15C Eagles, two F-16C Fighting Falcons and a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. A U.S Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker is seen parked during “Aero India 2013” on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 9, 2013.last_img read more

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Daily Mile could boost childrens health

first_imgMotivating school children to take a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity may boost their health and fitness levels, a new study suggests. The study examined the effectiveness of the popular Daily Mile initiative – which involves children taking a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity. The findings, published in the journal BMC Medicine, indicate that The Daily Mile can help combat global problems such as low physical activity, high sedentary behaviour, declining fitness levels and high levels of obesity. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf”Our research observed positive changes in children who participated in The Daily Mile intervention, compared to our control school where the scheme was not introduced,” said one of the study authors Colin Moran from the University of Stirling in Britain.Children are encouraged to run, jog or walk around their school grounds during a 15-minute break from class, which is in addition to normal intervals and physical education lessons.The study involved 391 pupils, aged between four and 12. Each child underwent an initial assessment and then a follow-up later in the academic year. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveBetween times, one school implemented The Daily Mile, while pupils at the other – known as the control school – followed their usual curriculum.Children wore accelerometers to record their average daily minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and average daily sedentary behaviour. They also had skinfold measurements taken to check body fat, and were assessed on their performance at a multistage fitness test (known as a bleep test or shuttle run), where they ran between cones 20 metres apart between bleeps.The team witnessed significant improvements in the intervention school, relative to the control school, the researcher said.”We observed a relative increase of 9.1 minutes per day in terms of MPVA and a relative decrease of 18.2 minutes per day in sedentary time,” said study co-author Naomi Brooks from the University of Stirling.last_img read more

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