April 8, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Call for ban on journalist to be lifted Help by sharing this information BelarusEurope – Central Asia Receive email alerts 29.02.08 – Journalist in airport transit area for past 48 hours as immigration officials try to break her willчитать на русскомRussian immigration officials have been preventing Natalia Morar, a Moldovan journalist employed at the Moscow headquarters of The New Times weekly, and her Russian husband, Ilya Barabanov, from leaving the transit area of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport for the past two days and the couple, who arrived on a flight from the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on 27 February, are preparing to spend another night there.Morar was deported from Russia on 16 December and the authorities are refusing to let her reenter the country. They are also refusing to let her see her lawyer, Yuri Kostanov. Although the authorities have threatened to put them on a flight back to Chisinau by force, Morar has said, “I will stay as long as I have the strength.”“The discriminatory character of these measures against Morar is outrageous,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We would like to be told why the FSB security service has intervened in this case and in what way this young journalist represents a threat to the Russian people.“We call on the Russian authorities to put an end to this stalemate and to explain Morar’s situation. If she is suspected of committing an offence, the matter should be referred to the courts. Otherwise, she is an ordinary journalist married to a Russian citizen, and there are no legal grounds for preventing her from entering Russia.“The immigration officials are clearly trying to break her will. This is obvious from the conditions in which she is being held,” Reporters Without Borders added. “She has not been able to see her lawyer and she has only sporadically received food and water. She has a kidney condition and the authorities will be responsible if it gets worse.”When Morar arrived with her husband on the flight from Chisinau two days ago, they were stopped at the passport control and she was told “the situation linked to your preceding visit has not changed.” Since then, they have been in an area of the airport for people awaiting expulsion. One of the two journalists covering her return was detained for several hours. The other was escorted out of the airport.When immigration officials tried to get Morar and her husband to board a flight to Chisinau yesterday, the couple tied themselves together with their belts and the officials decided not to use force. It is difficult to reach Morar by telephone in the airport at the moment as she has not been allowed to recharge her mobile. She was allowed to see a doctor today as she has not been feeling well.Prior to her deportation in December, on her return from a press trip to Israel, Morar wrote several articles about irregularities in the financing of the December parliamentary elections. One of them, headlined “The Kremlin slush fund,” went into the irregularities in great detail. RSF at the Belarusian border: “The terrorist is the one who jails journalists and intimidates the public” May 28, 2021 Find out more BelarusEurope – Central Asia May 27, 2021 Find out more News News Organisation News to go further June 2, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders called today for a ban on Moldovan journalist Natalia Morar, of the weekly New Times, to be lifted after what it called a “disgraceful” decision by a Moscow court to reject her appeal against the Russian FSB secret police’s refusal to explain why she had been deported from Russia last December and refused entry in February this year. “This secrecy and harassment must end” the organisation said. When the court granted the FSB’s request on 7 April for the appeal to be heard in secret because of allegedly confidential material in the case, journalists had to leave the courtroom. Follow the news on Belarus RSF_en Russian media boss drops the pretence and defends Belarus crackdown “We welcome opening of criminal investigation in Lithuania in response to our complaint against Lukashenko” RSF says News
The pipeline’s construction work and laying on the seabed of the Gulf of Finland were completed in summer 2019 Image: Balticconnector’s offshore pipeline ready for use. Photo: courtesy of PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay. The final phase of commissioning the Balticconnector pipeline was completed on 28 November 2019 when the offshore pipeline was filled with gas and pressurized as well as connected to Estonia’s gas transmission network. Balticconnector will be in commercial use as of 1 January 2020.The pipeline’s construction work and laying on the seabed of the Gulf of Finland were completed in summer 2019. To fill the pipeline with gas, it was first rinsed with nitrogen, which was then purged by conveying natural gas behind the pipeline scraper. Once the pipeline scraper, or the “pig” as it is called in the industry, arrived from Inkoo to Paldiski in Estonia, the pipeline was filled with gas and ready for use.“Filling the offshore pipeline with gas means that the Balticconnector pipeline is ready for use. The onshore pipeline was filled with gas earlier, and the trial runs of the Inkoo compressor stations were successfully completed. Everything is in place for bringing the pipeline into operation on 1 January 2020,” says Tom Främling, Project Director of Baltic Connector Oy.“We can be proud of our achievement. Professional project management and motivated project teams made it possible to commission the pipeline on schedule. Balticconnector will be brought into operation on 1 January 2020 when the Finnish gas market opens,” says Herkko Plit, President and CEO of Baltic Connector Oy. Source: Company Press Release
HONG KONG (AP) — The Lunar New Year holiday is usually a busy period for flower farms in Hong Kong, which gear up to sell plum blossoms, orchids and daffodils at flower markets during the festive season. But the pandemic and restrictions on such festive markets this year has many farms worried that they may be left with an oversupply of flowers. Traditionally, Lunar New Year fairs – known as “flower markets” in Cantonese – are held before the holidays, with thousands of florists and festive goods vendors hawking their wares to the public. This year, the Hong Kong government is restricting the markets to half-capacity with shorter business hours.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new survey of bankers suggests the economy remains weak in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The overall index for the region remained negative at 44.1 in July even though it improved from June’s 37.9. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy, while a score above 50 suggests a growing economy, survey organizers say. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says weak agriculture crop prices, retail sales and layoffs have hurt the bankers’ economic confidence. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
About two years ago, Halvorson decided he wanted to meet Reagan and thank her personally, but his early efforts to contact her were unsuccessful. More recently, after tracking down a retired New York Times editor who wrote a story about Halvorson’s and his sister’s experience with Reagan in the early 1980s, he was able to reach an assistant of Reagan’s through the library, Halvorson said. About two weeks ago, he was asked to write Reagan a letter, which led to an invitation to meet at the library Friday. “I’m nervous. I’m excited,” he said before the reunion. Priscilla Halvorson, who also has two biological children, attended Friday’s meeting. Brett and Diana, whom she adopted about a year after their surgeries, share a special bond, but still had the typical sibling rivalries growing up, she said. One of the Gift of Life founders, Robbie Donno, said kids who go through the program typically go on to succeed in life because they have a tangible reminder of what someone else did to keep them alive. “The rest of their lives, the scar on their chest is a reminder that someone saved their life,” he said. The program began in 1975. By 1983, the group had sponsored nearly 100 children for the procedure, he said. That number skyrocketed after Reagan decided to get involved. Today, the Gift of Life and the scores of other participating Rotary clubs around the world have helped nearly 10,000 kids worldwide, Donno said. Given that the surgeries are risky, Reagan’s desire to help was courageous, he said. “She’s a brave lady because the whole world was watching,” he said. “She was willing to take that risk because if something goes wrong, a good story ain’t so good anymore.” After the successful procedures for both children, Reagan visited them at Saint Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York, and gave them both Cabbage Patch Kids, that Christmas season’s most popular gift. While Halvorson doesn’t remember much about the operation or his trip on Air Force One to the White House – except the plentiful supply of jelly beans, Ronald Reagan’s favorite – he does know he wants to participate in the program and help other children the way others helped him. With Friday’s long-awaited meeting with Reagan over, Halvorson said he’s ready to move on to other chapters in his life. Although he loves Korean food, he has forgotten most of the language and has not been back to his native country since he was adopted. He wants to see his biological family, he said, adding, “That would be a great next chapter.” [email protected] (818) 713-3329160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SIMI VALLEY – When 4-year-old Lee Kil Woo walked onto the White House lawn after arriving on Air Force One in November 1983, he had no idea first lady Nancy Reagan had arranged for him and Ahn Ji Sook, 7, to come to the United States from South Korea to undergo life-saving heart surgeries. In the years since, his understanding and appreciation over that act of kindness grew, and he wanted to say thank you. So two years ago, he started researching how to get hold of Reagan. After a conversation with a reporter led to him writing a letter to the former first lady, he got his wish Friday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. “There was a tear in my eye,” said Woo – who was adopted with Sook by an Arizona family and given the name Brett Halvorson – about the emotional meeting. “She’s my hero. I realize now she did a great thing for me.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Reagan greeted Halvorson in front of a large photo of her hugging him and Sook, now named Diana, as children, shaking his hand and remarking how tall he’d gotten since their last meeting about 20 years ago. “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it,” Reagan said when she spotted the 28-year-old Washington state insurance broker. Halvorson and his adopted sister, who are not blood relatives, came to the United States for their operations through the Gift of Life program, a nonprofit effort begun by the Manhasset Rotary Club in Long Island, New York, to provide life-saving heart surgeries to kids worldwide. At the time, Nancy Reagan was in South Korea on a diplomatic trip with the president. She was contacted by Harriet Hodges, who worked with the children’s program and asked the first lady for help. The children’s trip and subsequent surgeries made headlines throughout the United States.
Why did complex multicellular life explode on the scene some 550 million years ago? That’s mystery enough, but finding complex single-celled life a billion years earlier makes it worse. A new paper evaluated claims of Cambrian-like fossils from India dated 1.6 billion years old in the evolutionary timeline. It did not explain the Cambrian explosion, but it did require belief in a long, long fuse. Bengtson et al evaluated rocks in India where claims of early Cambrian fossils had been reported in recent years. They reported in PNAS this week.1 What they found was not multicellular life, but a complex assortment of real fossils indicating bacterial mats, cyanobacteria, along with segmented tubes and evidences of eukaryotic life – the more advanced form of unicellular life. The fact that some of these eukaryotes formed tube-like shapes raises the question: why would a billion years go by with no more complex assemblages? There were also “embryo-like globules” indistinguishable from those found in early Cambrian deposits, though the authors assumed the resemblance was superficial. Prior reports of complex fossils so early in the timeline caused serious controversy. “If these and earlier reports are correct, they have profound implications,” they said; “either the radiometric dating consistently reflects inherited dates not related to sedimentation, as suggested by Azmi and coworkers, or Cambrian-like fossils occur in rocks that are a billion years older than the Cambrian.” They determined some imprints were due to gas bubbles in microbial mats. Though they could not rule out a few problematic forms, they concluded that the fossils were all from prokaryotes and a few colonial eukaryotes. Putting the happiest face possible on their findings, they said, “the Vindhyan deposits offer important new insights into the nature and diversity of life, and in particular, the early evolution of multicellular eukaryotes.” Most important, the paper admitted that the Cambrian explosion had a long fuse. Here’s how they put it:In terms of the evolution of major taxa, the most significant information to come out of the Vindhyan phosphorites is the detailed 3-dimensional morphologic evidence for late Paleoproterozoic multicellular eukaryotes (filamentous algae). Previously accepted multicellular eukaryotes were only known from the late Mesoproterozoic or early Neoproterozoic (i.e., some 400� 600 million years later), although some older discoveries had at least suggested the possibility that they had a longer prehistory. The potential of the Vindhyan phosphorites to yield fresh information on the Paleoproterozoic biotas is thus considerable, and the “shelly” biota discovered by Azmi et al. gives new insight into the nature of the Paleoproterozoic biosphere. The discredited reports of “Cambrian” fossils [i.e., in the Vindhyan deposits dated 1.6 billion years old] turned out to be an important discovery.1. Bengtson, Belivanova, Rasmussen, and Whitehouse, “The controversial ‘Cambrian’ fossils of the Vindhyan are real but more than a billion years older,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print April 24, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812460106.How credible is it to think that eukaryotes could not come up with anything more than tube-like colonies for a billion years, then bang! — trilobites, worms, crustaceans, jellyfish, and all the major animal body plans in a geological instant? Evolution is supposed to be this inexorable force for innovation that invented mammals, birds, flying insects and all the other wonders of nature in far, far less time than that. The real mystery here is how Darwinism survives wave after wave of falsification. The propensity of evolutionists to snow the public with their implausible, fictional, ad hoc, speculative, imaginative, self-contradictory plot lines to rescue their theory from the evidence deserves condemnation. Don’t let them get away with their pretensions of scholarship when defending absurdities. The integrity of science is at stake. (Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Bongekile Radebe tells us why it’s important to have positive role models to inspire young South Africans to pursue their dreams.Bongekile Radebe is a social entrepreneur and founder of Her Destiny. Her leadership potential has been recognised through her inclusion in the One Day Leader programme. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)Bongekile RadebeFor a young, black, woman like myself, raised in a township, representation has not only mattered but has also been my saving grace in believing and achieving my dreams.Representation has allowed me to believe, with no permission needed, that my place is anywhere in the world I want it to be. When spaces of leadership are not gender sensitive, gender inclusive, and gender deliberate, it perpetuates a silent discouraging message that “women don’t matter”. One thing though that representation has also taught me is that gender and merit are not mutually exclusive; at least not for me.Growing up, I found myself fascinated by smart and successful women. I remember seeing this beautiful woman who would appear in every issue of my mother’s favourite magazine, True Love. Perhaps as a little girl I loved her beauty more than I could make sense of her words, but I guess I just admired her a lot.Khanyi Dhlomo was an inspiration to many of us and I wasn’t the only one who considered her as a role model. Perhaps, because back then you could literally count the number of popular black business women. She made us want to work in media and advertising spaces.For some reason, this aspirational outlook on life never left me; I saw it with my friends and other women I would interact with.No matter our age, we had people we looked up to who gave us hope for our own journeys, that we too could be significant in the world and definitely succeed at it.Representation also played its role in my own unique destiny. From losing my dad as I was about to become a teenager, to painfully experiencing how his death would impact my family and our lives, and involuntarily fighting throughout life and its hardships. If it wasn’t for representation, I wouldn’t have known why the fight is worth it.Our Constitution, from the rights and issues it defends on education, gender equality, health, religion, justice and all the way to trade has not only afforded me the ability to live out my dreams globally, but it has inspired me to be brave enough in this life that still demands us to fight, to master our own destinies. To create, to build, to believe, to serve and most importantly to love.I love who I am, I love what I do, and I love that I can give and share it with you!My clan name was right about me, as a Radebe: ngiwuBhungane oyenza ngakuningi! uMthi wami uMkhulu ngempela, meaning, “I am Bhungane and prepare everything in abundance. My majestic tree towers over all those around.”Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
Festivals, festivals, festivals … South Africa has a celebration for every event, art form, food, drink and agricultural commodity.The pupils from Chris Hani High School welcome festival goers on day two of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March 2017. (Image: Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Facebook)Here’s a comprehensive month-by-month guide to some of South Africa’s best excuses for a party. You can browse the whole list, or click on the links below to jump to a specific month:FebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecemberFEBRUARYDance UmbrellaWhere: Johannesburg, GautengWebsite: Dance UmbrellaA festival of contemporary choreography and dance, the Dance Umbrella presents work ranging from community-based dance troupes to international companies. Since it started in 1988, it has launched many South African choreographers into international dance, including Vincent Mantsoe, Robyn Orlin and Boyzie Cekwana.Up the CreekWhere: Up the Creek campsite, Breede River, near Swellendam, Western CapeWebsite: Up the CreekThe Up the Creek campsite is situated on the banks of the Breede River and during the four-day festival offers three stages: the main stage, the river stage and the all-night-long Breede River bar stage. Visitors can frolic in the river during the day and then move up to main stage as the day progresses.Prickly Pear FestivalWhere: Uitenhage, Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern CapeThe Prickly Pear Festival is held in late February or early March every at Cuyler Hofstede farm near Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay. It’s a day of traditional food, such as ginger beer, pancakes, potjiekos, home-made jam, a spit braai and fish braai, bunnychow and home-made pudding.MARCHCape Town International Jazz FestivalWhere: Cape Town, Western CapeWebsite: Cape Town International Jazz FestivalCape Town International Jazz is a two-day festival held during March or April featuring some 40 international and African acts performing on five stages to an audience of 15 000. It also features photographic and art exhibitions.Lambert’s Bay KreeffeesWhere: Lambert’s Bay, West Coast, Western CapeWebsite: KreeffeesKreef is Afrikaans for crayfish, and a fees can be both festival and feast. It is held every March in the West Coast town of Lambert’s Bay, where you’ll feast on fresh crayfish and get festive at rock concerts by some of South Africa’s favourite musicians. There’s also bungee jumping, aerial displays, a half-marathon, beer tents and more.The Rotary River FestivalWhere: Vanderbijlpark, GautengWebsite: Rotary River FestivalThe Rotary River Festival takes place on the banks of the Vaal River at Stonehaven on Vaal in Vanderbijlpark and has been running since 1995. It’s a fun fund-raising occasion, with the money raised going to a large number of local charities. The festival features top musicians, dance, fashion, raft racing, tasty eats, and plenty of fun for the kids and those that are young at heart.Scifest AfricaWhere: Grahamstown, Eastern CapeWebsite: Scifest AfricaSciFest Africa, or the National Festival of Science, Engineering and Technology, is held in late March in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. Over seven days it features some 600 events: lectures, game drives, a laser show, workshops, sunset shows, robotics competitions, science olympics, school quizzes, interactive exhibitions, the PlayFair, field trips, talkshops and a film festival. Attendance now exceeds 35 000 visitors every year.Tonteldoos Country FestivalWhere: Tonteldoos, MpumalangaThe Tonteldoos Country Festival, previously known as the Peach Festival, happens in late March or early April in the village of Tonteldoos, some 20km northwest of Dullstroom and two hours from Johannesburg. It offers peaches and pretty much everything that can be made from the fruit, including peach mampoer.APRILKlein Karoo Nationale KunstefeesWhere: Oudtshoorn, Western CapeWebsite: Klein Karoo Nationale KunstefeesThe Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn features well-known and young up-and-coming artists in dance and theatre. Started as an Afrikaans alternative to the mainly English National Arts Festival, KKNK has 200 different shows on three different stages.AfrikaBurnWhere: Tankwa Karoo, Northern CapeWebsite: AfrikaBurnAfrika Burn is based on The Burning Man festival which grew out of a loose grouping of individuals and organisations who questioned, and continue to question mainstream, highly commercialised society and what it does to the notion and workings of community. In a nutshell, it’s about radical self-expression.Splashy FenWhere: Underberg, KwaZulu-NatalWebsite: Splashy FenEvery year the Splashy Fen music festival attracts thousands of people to a farm near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal for a feast of mainstream and alternative rock and pop. It offers plenty of facilities, but there are great bed-and-breakfasts in nearby towns for those who believe music festivals can be enjoyed without mud.Philippolis Witblits FestivalWhere: Philippolis, Free StateThe Philippolis Witblits Festival, held in early April, will give you a taste of a proud local tradition – witblits (Afrikaans for “white lightning”) is South African moonshine. Held in the oldest town in the Free State, the festival has boeresport (literally “farmers sport”) for the kids, food, drink and more witblits.Prince Albert Town and Olive FestivalWhere: Prince Albert, Western CapeWebsite: Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival The Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival, held in the Swartberg region of the Western Cape in April, offers a whole lot more than just the region’s famous olives and wine. There’s an art exhibition, beer tents, live music, witblits tastings, crafts for kids, historic tours, a cycle race, an olive pip-spitting competition, culinary demonstrations, a midnight ghost walk, stalls, cabaret, a dance and more.MAYPink Loerie Mardi GrasWhere: Knysna, Western CapeWebsite: Pink Loerie Mardi GrasThe Knysna loerie is a green bird, but the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras is different. A gay festival held in the beautiful coastal town of Knysna in May, the Mardi Gras offers four days of non-stop entertainment for anyone who enjoys a party.Riebeek Kasteel Olive FestivalWhere: Riebeek Kasteel, Western CapeWebsite: Riebeek Kasteel Olive FestivalThe Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival takes place in the Swartland area of the Western Cape in May. A feast of wine and the best olives in South Africa, the festival also has an art competition, live entertainment, stalls and lots of food.JUNECalitzdorp Port and Wine FestivalWhere: Calitzdorp, Western CapeWebsite: Calitzdorp Port and Wine FestivalThe Klein Karoo town of Calitzdorp is the port-wine capital of South Africa. Its annual port festival, held over a weekend in June, is hosted by the eight wine cellars of Calitzdorp. There’s a historical treasure hunt around the town, local arts and crafts, lifestyle market stalls to suit all tastes, the Port Dance, restaurants, food stalls and the annual South African boules championships, plus much more.National Arts FestivalWhere: Grahamstown, Eastern CapeWebsite: National Arts FestivalThe Grahamstown National Arts Festival, held in late June or early July every year, is South Africa’s oldest, biggest and best-known arts festival. The 10-day event offers culture hounds every indulgence of theatre, music, song, dance, film and a whole lot more. If there’s one South African festival you have to attend, this is it.JULYHow artists will help South Africa reflect, critique and reimagine our national aspirations: https://t.co/LnXQ2DnchJ #NAF2016— National Arts Fest (@artsfestival) October 30, 2015Dullstroom Winter FestivalWhere: Dullstroom, MpumalangaWebsite: Dullstroom Winter FestivalHeld annually in July, the Dullstroom Winter Festival is historically themed as Christmas in Winter. Activities during the festival include a golf day, a tagged trout event – Dullstroom is a fly-fishing hotspot – chocolate and wine tastings, art exhibitions, whiskey tastings and themed restaurant evenings. Live music shows showcasing roots, blues and folk music from top South African performers take place at various venues around town.Knysna Oyster FestivalWhere: Knysna, Western CapeWebsite: Knysna Oyster FestivalThe coastal town of Knysna is famous for its oysters, and increasingly famous for the July festival that celebrates them. In addition to oyster braais, oyster tasting, oyster-eating competitions and other molluscular activities, there’s live entertainment and lots of sporting events.VryfeesWhere: Bloemfontein, Free StateWebsite: VryfeesFormerly the Volksblad Arts Festival, this is a lovely festival with lots of live shows, stage productions, and an art market with lots of stalls. This festival is the big showcase for artists from all over the country who want to perform in the Free State.Ellisras Bushveld FestivalWhere: Lephalele (Ellisras), LimpopoThe Ellisras Bushveld Festival takes place in early July in the heart of the bushveld, in the Waterberg district of Limpopo. The festival includes cattle shows, a game auction, horse jumping, dog shows, agricultural activities, a three-day battle for the best 4×4 competition, a game farms expo, hunting opportunities, bird- and tree-identification competitions, traditional food, a beer tent and huge camp fires.AUGUSTOppikoppi Bushveld FestivalWhere: Northam, North WestWebsite: OppikoppiHeld on the bushveld farm of Oppikoppi (“op die koppie” in Afrikaans, or “on the hill”), this festival offers three permanent thatched stages, a smaller comedy stage and a stage for more chilled music at the top of the koppie. Oppikoppi has helped establish many South African musicians’ careers, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. This is real bushveld: hot and dry, and everywhere red dust and thorn trees. Expect to shower a lot when you get home. (Oppikoppi also hosts an Easter Festival in March.)Standard Bank Joy of JazzWhere: Johannesburg, GautengWebsite: Standard Bank Joy of JazzJohannesburg’s biggest annual jazz festival is an ideal family outing, featuring a range of musical styles but with a strong emphasis on jazz. Over 200 local and international artists perform at different venues across the city, particularly in Newtown.Hantam VleisfeesWhere: Calvinia, Northern CapeWebsite: Hantam VleisfeesCalvinia in the Northern Cape is sheep country, and this festival celebrates meat. There’s meat braaied, stewed, curried, in pita, on sosaties, in potjies – you can even pick up a done-to-perfection sheep’s head for a mere R30. First held in 1989, the three-day Hantam Vleisfees has a music concert, street party, vintage car rally and, a highlight for many, the Miss Vleisfees competition – a glittering affair with dinner and dancing.Cellar Rats Wine FestivalWhere: Magaliesburg, GautengWebsite: Cellar Rats Wine FestivalTaste South Africa’s best wines in a tranquil outdoor setting in Magaliesburg. Held every year in August, the Cellar Rats Wine Festival is a day of wine tasting, with picnic baskets for sale and many activities for the kids. Enjoy huge shady trees, lush green grass and an abundance of birdlife on the banks of the picturesque Magalies River. Designated drivers get in for free.SEPTEMBERArts AliveWhere: Johannesburg, GautengWebsite: Arts AliveArts Alive, held every September since 1992, features a heady mix of dance, visual art, poetry and music at venues in the Joburg inner city. The main concert, held at the Johannesburg Stadium, headlines international superstars such as 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. Over 600 artists perform during the four-day festival, with most shows at various venues in Newtown. The ever-popular Jazz on the Lake is held on the final day.Aardklop Arts FestivalWhere: Potchefstroom, North WestWebsite: Aardklop Arts FestivalAardklop Arts Festival offers a feast of arts and an all-round good jol for five days in late September and early October. First held in 1998, Aardklop – Afrikaans roughly translated as “earth beat” – has over 90 productions, with classical music, jazz, hard rock, cabaret, visual arts, theatre, circus performances, opera, African and World music, poetry and more, ending with the OppiAarde rock festival on the final day.Southern Cross Music FestivalWhere: Mooi River, KwaZulu-NatalEvery September the Southern Cross Music Festival showcases South African music in a three-day event in Hidden Valley on the banks of KwaZulu-Natal’s beautiful Mooi River. First held in 1998, the festival donates part of its proceeds to charity. In addition to music, there’s fishing, swimming, white water rafting, abseiling, hikes, walks, mountain biking and 4×4 courses. The farm caters for 6 000 festival-goers.Woodstock Music FestivalWhere: Hartbeeshoek, North WestWoodstock, first held in 1999, is the largest youth-oriented music and lifestyle festival in South Africa. In addition to mainstream music, the festival offers a market of crafters and alternative lifestyle products over four days. It is held at Hartbeeshoek Holiday resort near Hartbeespoort Dam in North West.Boertjie KontreifeesWhere: Bultfontein, Free StateWebsite: Boertjie KontreifeesThe Boertjie Kontreifees is an agricultural festival, featuring 340 stalls, which draws about 20 000 people over four days. It includes plenty of sport, plenty to eat and drink, lots of competitions, and many entertainers. It being an agricultural festival, you can expect to find horses, cattle, sheep, buck, greyhounds, tractors, and cars as well.Gariep KunstefeesWhere: Kimberley, Northern CapeWebsite: Gariep KunstefeesThe Gariep Kunstefees (arts festival) features an impressive line-up of local musicians, a film festival showcasing South Africa’s new filmmakers, as well as art exhibitions and children’s theatre.Hermanus Whale FestivalWhere: Hermanus, Western CapeWebsite: Hermanus Whale FestivalEvery year, southern right whales travel thousands of miles to the Cape south coast to mate and calve in the bays. Join the villagers of Hermanus for an entertainment-packed festival, in the town with the best land-based whale watching in the world.Awesome Africa Music FestivalWhere: Midmar Dam, KwaZulu-NatalThe Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival, first held in 1999, takes place at the Midmar Dam in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands after calling Durban home for many years. Its focus is on collaboration with musicians from Africa and beyond.Prince Albert Agricultural ShowWhere: Prince Albert, Western CapeWebsite: Prince AlfredJoin the people of Prince Albert as they celebrate their agricultural heritage in September. Homecrafts, art and flowers, horses, motorbikes, sheep and angora goat competitions, local products, delicious food, bar facilities and entertainment for young and old are all on the menu.MacufeWhere: Bloemfontein, Free StateWebsite: MacufeMacufe, the 10-day Mangaung African Cultural Festival, showcases the cream of African and international talent. It features jazz, gospel, kwaito, hip-hop, R&B, rock and classical music, as well as dance, drama, cabaret, musical theatre, poetry, fine art and traditional arts and crafts. The festival attracts up to 140 000 people and is presented in late September and early October by the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State.It’s great to see our female musicians get so much support. A prove that they are being recognized #Macufe2015 pic.twitter.com/ksgrjNzKR1— Arts & Culture (@ArtsCultureSA) October 9, 2015White Mountain FestivalWhere: Estcourt, KwaZulu-NatalWebsite: White Mountain FestivalThe White Mountain Folk Festival in the Central Drakensberg mountain range offers great music in an awesome setting for three days in September. Featuring acoustic performances by some of South Africa’s top folk musicians, it is held at White Mountain Lodge in the foothills of the Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve. Camping in a beautiful site at the edge of a dam is free, with hot shower units at the ready, plus lots of “executive” loos. There’s also a variety of food stalls, and a beer market offering naturally brewed local ales and lagers.Vrede Paddadors FeesWhere: Vrede, Free StateThe full name of Paddadors, the Free State town of Vrede’s annual festival, is the Vrede Paddadors Rooivleis en Kultuurfees – which translates literally as the Peace Frog-Thirst Red-Meat and Culture Festival. The story goes that the dry land on which the town was established was originally called Paddadors (“frog thirst” in Afrikaans), until peace came and the place was named Vrede. The festival offers live music, traditional food, a beer garden, children’s activities and more.OCTOBERLekkerhoekie OpskopWhere: Polkadraai Festival Ground, Zwartkops, CenturionThe Lekkerhoekie Opskop brings together many of South Africa’s best-loved Afrikaans singers. There is also plenty of other entertainment on the side, including things for the kids to do.Herman Charles Bosman WeekendWhere: Groot Marico, North WestWebsite: Herman Charles Bosman WeekendHerman Charles Bosman was one of South Africa’s greatest writers, and this weekend festival celebrates his work in the desert town of Groot Marico, the setting for many of his stories. Some of South Africa’s top actors read from and perform Bosman’s work; there’s also good food, good company – and lots of mampoer.Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle FestivalWhere: Cloof Wine Estate, Darling, Western CapeWebsite: Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle FestivalRocking the Daisies features top South African bands performing a wide variety of music, as well as comedy, burlesque dancing, acoustic jams, and giant African puppeteering. The Food Village looks after the stomach and the Traders Market offers exciting goodies. Other attractions include swimming, wine tasting, the Daisy Den and Art Field, and activities for the kids.NOVEMBERFicksburg Cherry FestivalWhere: Ficksburg, Free StateWebsite: Ficksburg Cherry FestivalOne of the oldest festivals in South Africa – first held in 1969 – the Ficksburg Cherry Festival now attracts around 20 000 visitors to this small eastern Free State town every November. The scenery is magnificent, and the festival offers cherry and asparagus tastings, tours, picnics, music, and the Miss Cherry Blossom and Miss Cherry Pip competitions.DECEMBERRustler’s Valley New Year’s GatheringWhere: Ficksburg, Free StateWebsite: Rustler’s Valley New Year’s GatheringRustler’s Valley in the eastern Free State hosts some of its best trance, dance and drumming festivals in late November and December, including a New Year celebration. The majestic scenery in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains alone is worth the trip.Updated November 2015Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
Declining costs for utility-scale wind turbines are one factor that has helped drive the price of wind-generated electricity to its lowest point ever, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says in its annual Wind Technologies Report.The report said that utility purchasers were offered an average price of less than 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour in contract negotiations in 2014, a year in which wind installations reached 4.9 gigawatts of new capacity. New projects were valued at a total of $8.3 billion.“Wind energy prices — particularly in the central United States — have hit new lows, with utilities selecting wind as the low-cost option,” Berkeley Lab Senior Scientist Ryan Wiser said in a written statement. “Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the U.S.”Wind energy has equaled 33% of all new energy additions in the U.S. since 2007, and now meets almost 5% of the country’s total electricity demand, the report says. In nine states, wind accounts for more than 12% of total generation; in three states it’s more than 20% of demand. Better turbines, better pricingThe U.S. Department of Energy said there were several key findings:Wind turbines are getting bigger and more powerful. The average capacity of wind turbines has increased by 172% since 1998-1999, to 1.9 megawatts, and the average turbine hub height has gone to 83 meters (272 feet), an increase of 48%. The average rotor-tip diameter is now 99 meters (325 feet), more than double what it was just six years ago. These increases have allowed developers to build projects economically on sites with lower wind speeds.Wind turbines cost less than they used to. Prices for turbines have fallen by as much as 40% from their peak in 2008, and that means lower costs for wind farms. Projects constructed in 2014 had an average installed cost of $1,710/kW, a decline of nearly $600/kW from their peaks in 2009 and 2010.Wind energy is more competitive in cost. With prices falling for turbines and wind installations, the average levelized long-term costs of the power they generate has come down, too. Prices dropped to an average of 2.35 cents/kWh in power sales agreements signed in 2014. That’s the lowest it’s ever been, but the report notes that’s based on a sample of projects chiefly in the central part of the country where costs are less (see the chart below). Wind energy contracts signed in 2014 also “compare very favorably” to cost projections for gas-fired plants extending through 2040.Wind keeps a lot of people employed. Jobs in the wind sector increased sharply between 2013 and 2014, from 50,500 to 73,000, while the number of companies that supply turbines also has reversed years of declines and also is on the rise. U.S. manufacturers produced 90% of the nacelle assemblies (the box-like structure that sits on top of the tower), between 70% and 80% of the towers and as much as 65% of the blades and hubs. But only about 20% of the components inside the nacelle were manufactured in the U.S. Exports of wind-power components hit $488 million in 2014, up from just $16 million in 2007.Uncertainty lies ahead. “Far more” domestic manufacturing facilities closed their doors in 2014 than opened. An uncertain domestic market because of changes in U.S. tax law after 2016 has made some manufacturers uneasy and hesitant to commit long-term resources to the U.S. market.