Rain brings some relief to Western Cape farmers

Rain brings some relief to Western Cape farmers

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Agri Western Cape says good rains and heavy snow has placed the industry in the province in a much better position than last year.

CEO of the organisation, Carl Opperman says although dams are filling up in the province, the drought is far from over.

Ground water was used extensively as a result of the drought, and needs to recharged.

The area from Bredasdorp to Mossel Bay and inland to the Karoo is still in a dire situation.

Opperman says as a result of the drought, many farmers are still in financial dire straits and many face cash flow problems.

Opperman says there is an urgent need for all stakeholders, including government to look at setting up an insurance plan or programme to assist farmers when serious crises hit.

“We’ve got assistance on the live stock side, but there’s no assistance for your horticulture and viticulture, people or your grain farmers at this point in time. We got to really look at it.”

“The upcoming farmers are still in dire straits because there is no capital or balance sheet to back them up. So we must also look at ways and means to assist up and coming farmers. We need to find ways to sustain them and take them further when we face crisis like this,” adds Opperman.

 

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Anti-gay hostility threatens Indonesia’s Aids battle

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Rising government and public hostility towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Indonesia is threatening the battle against Aids in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, activists and an official said.

Homosexuality is not regulated by law in Indonesia, except in the conservative province of Aceh, but the country has seen an increase in raids targeting LGBT people, which have forced many members of the community underground.

The group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said this week hostility was making it harder for the LGBT community to get access to public health programmes, putting people at greater risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes Aids.

“The Indonesian government should recognise that its role in abuses against LGBT people is seriously compromising the country’s response to HIV,” said Kyle Knight, LGBT rights researcher at HRW and author of the report.

“One particularly troubling aspect of the anti-LGBT panic is that public health outreach to such populations has become far more difficult, making wider spread of the disease more likely,” the rights group said.

The prevalence rate of HIV among gay men in Indonesia has jumped from 8.5% in 2011 to 25% in 2015, it said.

Indonesia recorded 46 357 new HIV infections in 2017, with nearly a quarter of those among men who have sex with other men, according to government and UNAids data. Other groups included sex workers and intravenous drug users.

A senior health official said the increasing hostility to the LGBT community was disrupting the relations between health workers and people who need their help.

“For a long time, health workers were able to meet these groups in certain places,” Dr Windra Waworuntu, director general of infectious diseases at the health ministry, said on Wednesday.

“But with the anti-LGBT feeling now, health workers find it difficult to reach them. It’s similar to when red light districts are broken up and health workers have difficulty in reaching sex workers.”

A spokesperson for President Joko Widodo declined to comment when asked about rising anti-LGBT sentiment among the government and public but senior government officials have called for gay rights advocacy to be restricted.

Indonesia’s parliament looks set to criminalise same-sex relations, something that Islamist groups have long pressed for,while police have stood by while vigilantes have stormed “gay sex parties”.

Police have also stepped up raids on gatherings at spas and hostels, charging some people with violating strict pornography laws.

In 2016, Vice President Jusuf Kalla asked the UN Development Programme to stop $8 million of funding for LGBT-related programmes in Indonesia.

This year, a survey found that nearly 90% of Indonesians who understand the term “LGBT” felt threatened by the community, while the Indonesian Psychiatric Association and the Health Ministry stated in internal documents seen by Reuters that being LGBT was a mental illness.

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HRC urges better dialogue following healthcare strike

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The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called on healthcare workers to consider engaging it when they fail to resolve their disputes with government instead of embarking on a strike action that compromises the provision of healthcare.

The Commission is hosting a national dialogue on the impact of protest action on the right to access healthcare services.

The North West province was plunged into chaos a few months ago when healthcare workers went on a prolonged strike action over salaries and poor working conditions.

HRC Chairperson Bongani Majola has also appealed to government to develop early warning systems in order to resolve issues as soon as they are raised.

“Where the state fails to engage properly, we’d like to encourage trade union movements and workers together to consider engaging the Commission instead of venting their frustrations on innocent and ailing members of the public, who are compelled by their conditions to seek help in public hospitals and clinics. The Commission is committed to ensuring that the human rights of everyone are promoted and protected and this includes the rights of healthcare workers.”

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EFF, Contralesa push for Section 25 amendment

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) say they’re in agreement that Section 25 of the Constitution, which deals with right of property ownership, should be amended.

This as Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee is holding countrywide public hearings into whether the Section should be amended.

However, King of Amazulu Goodwill Zwelithini has said government should back off from the land issue.

The King strongly warned those suggesting that he lose his land and vowed to take the Ingonyama Trust issue to the Constitutional Court if the need arises.

During a joint media briefing in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, the EFF and Contralesa emphasised their view that the State should be the custodian of expropriated land.

Contralesa Secretary-General Zolani Mkiva says: “We do not buy into the narrative that Section 25, as it currently stands with the market value being at the centre of its compensation regime, can be a vehicle for a meaningful land redistribution programme. Contralesa and the EFF further agree that the state shall be the overall custodian of all SA land. We also agree that the land, which currently falls under the custodianship of traditional leaders, will continue to be held as such subject to the primary ownership on the state on behalf of the people.”

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Drivers threaten to shut down Uber and Taxify

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Uber and Taxify drivers have threatened to shut down the ride e-hailing services should their demands not be addressed.

They marched to Uber offices in Krammerville in Johannesburg on Tuesday and handed over a memorandum of demands.

They gave both companies 48 hours to respond to their demands.

Among some of their demands is for the 25% commission which they claim Uber receives, to be reduced to 15%.

Taxify on the other hand, claims its drivers receive between 13 to 20% and that they even increased fares recently in response to the fuel price hike.

Spokesperson for the drivers Vhathuka Mbelengwa says thus far they have not received any official response. ”

Uber has put out press releases about offering driver incentives and fuel top up incentives. These are solutions we have assessed and feel they lack impact in what we are trying to accomplish. We want real solutions. We want our demands met.”

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Cosatu, N West residents praised for fighting corruption

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North West Premier Professor Job Mokgoro has praised the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and residents for ensuring that they stop being subjected to unprecedented levels of abuse of public resources.

Mokgoro was speaking at the North West Cosatu 5th Elective Conference which started in Mahikeng on Wednesday night.

He took over from former premier Supra Mahumapelo who was removed following public protests.

Mokgoro insisted that corrupt officials who have been pointed out by the Inter ministerial Task Team probed governance in the province be harshly dealt with.

“If it had not been for Cosatu, other public sector unions and in particular the people of the North West, we would have still been subjected to unprecedented levels of abuse of much needed public resources. The stench of corruption in the public service indeed undermined trust within government and robbed many of our communities of the much needed efficient and effective delivery of services,” Mokgoro says.

Cosatu Provincial Chairperson Solly Lekhu raised concerns with what he termed a dysfunctional alliance within the North West.

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On July Fourth, Americans celebrate life, liberty

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Americans celebrated their nation’s 242nd anniversary of independence on Wednesday, with concerts, parades and a voracious display of hot dog-eating prowess in New York, as many cities and towns held fireworks displays after sundown.

But the holiday was marked by a widely televised protest at the Statue of Liberty against ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A woman scaled the statue’s pedestal, where she sat for four hours until police brought her down. Police said it was unclear if she was part of the protest against ICE and charges were pending.

Also, two people died and several others were injured Tuesday evening in Rock Island Illinois after a large tree branch fell on them, police reported in local media.

At the White House, President Donald Trump hosted a picnic for military families on the South Lawn during the afternoon, a few hours before fireworks lit up the National Mall.

Independence Day festivities held in Washington featured a concert by the National Symphony Orchestra on the lawn of the Capitol, where “Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett, The Temptations, The Beach Boys and Luke Combs performed.

The Fourth of July holiday marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by congressional delegates in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

The document declared the young nation’s independence from Great Britain and advanced the principle “that all men are created equal,” and had “certain unalienable rights” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

More than two centuries later, however, it was the pursuit of hot dogs that defined the holiday at Coney Island on the waterfront of New York’s borough of Brooklyn, where Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and restaurants held its 46th annual hot dog-eating contest.

Joey Chestnut once again dominated the competition. The 34-year-old from San Jose, California, won his 11th “Mustard Belt” by downing an astonishing 74 wieners – topping the record of 72 he set last year.

In the women’s division, Miki Sudo, 32, of Las Vegas, won her fifth title by putting away 37 hot dogs.

Heat and humidity hung over the competition, as well as much of the country. The National Weather Service issued heat advisories for the Plains states eastward to the Mid-Atlantic region. Temperatures hit the 90s with the humidity making it feel like 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (40-43 degrees Celsius).

On a day that features countless patriotic parades nationally, the pro-gun control group Moms Demand Action held several marches around the country, including one in Webster Groves, Missouri, where Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill joined them.

“It was hot! But wonderful,” McCaskill said on Twitter.

New York put on an evening fireworks display that ranks as the country’s largest, according to Macy’s (M.N), the retailer that sponsors the annual event.

More than 3 million spectators and 12 million television viewers watched 75,000 shells illuminate the night sky over the East River to the music of singer Kelly Clarkson.

Bostonians celebrated with the Boston Pops along the Charles River, joined by pop vocalist Rachel Platten.

Because of wildfires in southeastern Colorado and drought in the Denver area, most area communities canceled public displays of fireworks, officials said.

Los Angeles held fireworks, as well as a concert and other celebrations at the Hollywood Bowl. Up the coast, San Franciscans watched fireworks on the bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.

In recent years, law enforcement agencies have been on the alert for suspicious activity during the holiday celebrations. Officials said they took extra precautions this year, but have not detected any credible security threats.

An Ohio man was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of planning to detonate a bomb at Cleveland’s Fourth of July celebrations.

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Another cash in transit heist in Boksburg

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Police are yet to confirm reports of a cash-in-transit heist in Boksburg East of Johannesburg.

It’s believed the cash heist happened on Atlas and Northrand road in Boksburg.

Motorists have reported hearing sounds of gun fire and explosions.

This is the same vicinity where in May this year five people were arrested after two cash vans were blown open and an undisclosed amount of cash stolen.

Spokesperson for the Motor Transport Workers’ Union Tlhasenyane Motaung says an alleged robber has been shot dead.

“They did try to bomb the vehicle but failed, and one robber was shot dead. Three of our members are injured. One of the guys from the Tactical Support Unit was shot on the leg. There’s also reports that two civilians may have been injured but that’s not confirmed as yet.”

All the wounded have been taken to hospital. Police are currently searching for the other suspects.

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Woman who scaled Statue of Liberty to protest immigration policy arrested

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A woman was arrested Wednesday after staging a dramatic protest against President Donald Trump’s separation of migrant families, climbing the Statue of Liberty and forcing its evacuation on Independence Day.

Wearing a “Rise and Resist” T-shirt, the woman on the fabled symbol of welcome to immigrants at one point told authorities that she would only come down when parents are reunited with all migrant children separated from them by the Trump administration.

“She resisted at the beginning. She would not come down by voice command,” National Park Service spokesperson Jerry Willis told AFP.

So police placed her in custody, Willis said, noting that the woman was facing multiple federal charges including trespassing and disorderly conduct.

“We assume that she is protesting,” Willis said, based on the woman’s remarks to police.

After nearly four hours on the statue, the woman finally accompanied police down off the monument, tethered to them by wires.

The woman, who has not yet been identified, at one point walked from one side to the other beneath the statue’s sandal.

New York police assisted US Park Police to remove her from Lady Liberty.

Local media first reported that the woman was among demonstrators opposed to Trump’s immigration policy who protested at the site earlier.

But Rise and Resist NYC, which organized the protest, said her protest on the statue was not part of the group’s move.

At least six people were arrested for hanging a banner around the base of the statue that read “Abolish ICE,” referring to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency at the forefront of the immigration debate.

They too were facing misdemeanor federal charges, Willis said.

Cruise operator Statue Cruises said it had to turn away more than 2 000 people waiting to take their tour to the famed statue.

Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a cornerstone of his administration.

As a result of Trump’s crackdown, distraught children were separated from their families and, according to widely broadcast pictures, held in chain-link enclosures.

His one-time “zero tolerance” practice of separating migrant parents from their children at the Mexican border triggered international condemnation.

While the policy was abandoned, it is still unclear how and when some 2 000 migrant children will be reunited with their parents.

Many trying to cross the US-Mexico frontier are destitute, fleeing gang violence and other turmoil in Central America.

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SA will not reinstate ambassador to Tel Aviv

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The South African government says it will not bow down to pressure to normalise its diplomatic relations with the state of Israel.

This follows concerted efforts by pro-Israeli groups to urge the Pretoria administration to reinstate its ambassador to Tel Aviv.

The South African government recalled its Ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane two months ago following the killing of at least 60 Palestinian protesters, and the wounding of about 2 000 more along the Gaza strip by Israeli forces.

The Jewish lobby groups have denounced the move to recall the country’s Ambassador as “outrageous”, whilst pro-Palestinian activists have called for the immediate downgrade of the South African embassy in Tel Aviv.

Briefing the media on Tuesday in Pretoria, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu reiterated government stance not to reinstate its Ambassador back to Tel Aviv.

“I’m very glad that I recalled the Ambassador, because we could have not been in the situation that we are at now. Its been a violation that has been going on for a long time, and we can’t be looking away. We are holding back on our Ambassador until we are certain that we are making headway. For us this is an unacceptable situation, completely unacceptable.”

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