Rosh Sewpersad pioneered Cape Town’s first public-private environmental stewardship programme to preserve the country’s valuable fynbos heritage. Watsonias, found on Nirvana Farm, a type of Atlantis Sandveld fybos. Gladiolus caryophyllaceus which was thought to be extinct in the wild was rediscovered at Nirvana Fynbos Reserve in 2006. Controlled burns are important as they help to regenerate and activate dormant fynbos seeds.(Images: Rosh Sewpersad)MEDIA CONTACTS• Rosh Sewpersad +27 21 658 7206Wilma den HartighA South African fynbos conservationist has taken the lead to establish Cape Town’s first ever public-private environmental stewardship programme to preserve the country’s valuable fynbos heritage.Fynbos is a term given to a collection of plants, mainly shrubs, which form part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. This is the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the only one to be found entirely within one country. It is home to more types of indigenous plants than any similar sized area on earth.It all started in 2005, when Rosh Sewpersad bought a piece of land near the town of Atlantis in South Africa’s West Coast region.The land came at a good price and his goal was to rehabilitate the farm, but this was not an easy job – it was severely neglected and densely overgrown with alien vegetation.“While exploring the farm we had to tie string to the shrubs not to get lost,” he remembers.Sewpersad had no idea that once he started clearing the overgrown vegetation on Nirvana Farm he would discover an endangered species of fynbos known as Atlantis Sandveld.This was a significant find as Atlantis Sandveld was previously thought to be extinct.Working with land ownersThrough his efforts to rehabilitate the land, Sewpersad realised the importance of involving private land owners to protect South Africa’s fynbos vegetation.To protect as much fynbos as possible, conservation efforts can’t focus only on reserves and parks, particularly as some of South Africa’s most scarce and threatened habitats are in private ownership.“The amount of fynbos found on private land is significant,” Sewpersad says.In 2009 the first ever stewardship agreement was established with the City of Cape Town, under which Nirvana Farm was declared a conservation area.The programme offers various incentives for land owners, such as rates rebates and support from the City of Cape Town’s fire department to perform ecological burns.“Controlled burns are important as they help to regenerate and activate dormant fynbos seeds,” explains Sewpersad.Through the programme landowners are also supplied with herbicides that prevent alien vegetation from sprouting again.A love for conservationSewpersad, who works as a systems analyst, has no formal training in botany or conservation but it is his interest in the indigenous shrubs that drives him.“I’ve always been interested in conservation causes so it was a natural progression to get involved in fynbos,” he says.His work to preserve the internationally significant biodiversity on Nirvana Farm is also getting noticed, and recently the Mail & Guardian newspaper named him one of this year’s 200 young South Africans, an annual campaign recognising young people under the age of 35 who are doing extraordinary things.A uniquely South African plant under threatSouth Africa’s treasured fynbos vegetation is something unique that the country can lay claim to, and it is an important part of the country’s natural and cultural heritage.Fynbos is famous not only for the diversity of its plant species but also the beauty of its wildflowers.“Preserving fynbos makes sense for so many reasons,” Sewpersad says.Cape fynbos is characterised by exceptionally high numbers of highly localised species – including some that are restricted to areas as little as one square kilometre.It is a major draw card for tourism in the Western Cape, but fynbos has also been used extensively in food preparation, for natural medicine and even in popular culture with traditional songs such as Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê (Afrikaans for ‘Sugarbush, I want you so’), says Sewpersad.This is an Afrikaans folk song and the word “suikerbossie” is used as a term of endearment that could be translated as “sweetie”. The suikerbossie is also a species of protea endemic to the Cape Floral kingdom.Alien vegetation is a threatBut now the conservation of fynbos is coming under pressure and Sewpersad says that in the Cape more than one-third of the species are endangered.The greatest threats to Sandveld fynbos are unsustainable land use and the encroachment of introduced alien vegetation such as Acacia saligna or Port Jackson, Australian myrtle and wattle.Sandveld fynbos was once found along the West Coast, almost as far as the Namibian border. According to Sewpersad it mostly occurs in acidic, coarse-grained soils that are poor in nitrogen and phosphorus.It rarely develops in areas of drought and occurs on the sandy soils of the mountains and coastal plains.This is why alien vegetation is a serious threat to the survival of such fynbos species.Sewpersad explains that in the 1950s and 1960s alien vegetation was introduced to stabilise sand dunes on the West Coast.“At the time, they didn’t realise impact in years to come,” he says.As alien vegetation has no natural predators, there is no way to keep populations in check. “What alien vegetation does is change the soil type so that it becomes unfriendly to fynbos.”Expanding the programmeNext Sewpersad would like to expand the programme to make larger conservation reserves or corridors of fynbos.“This will increase conservation impact if the area is larger,” he says. “Conservation becomes more effective when you link up various green belts.”He is working with the City of Cape Town to establish such corridors, but says this part of the project is also a good opportunity for private companies to get involved through corporate social investment projects.He believes South Africa should do more to market the unique shrub. Fynbos isn’t only beautiful to look at, but it could be exported successfully as cut flowers. After all, one of South Africa’s biggest exports, rooibos tea, is also derived from fynbos species endemic to the Clanwilliam Cederberg area.As he continues to rehabilitate the farm and restore it to its natural beauty, he’s discovering more exceptionally rare and endangered species. Already 186 other plants have been unearthed, of which 33 are critically endangered and on the Red Data list of threatened species.Sewpersad’s dedication to protecting this internationally significant vegetation type is paying off, but he says there is more work to do.“We work hard to remain true to our role as custodians of a last remaining example of naturally-occurring Atlantis Sandveld fynbos in the world – a product of 71-million years of evolution,” he says.
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RB Leipzig coach Nagelsmann has dig at Everton over Lookman treatmentby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveRB Leipzig coach Julien Nagelsmann has had a dig at Everton over their summer arrival Ademola Lookman.The 21-year-old has made just one substitute appearance since returning to Leipzig in July.“Some (new signings) still need a bit of development time because they did not have the regular game time at their previous clubs,” Nagelsmann told Kicker.“Experience has shown that newcomers usually take a little longer to get along with what I want.“We have many video sequences with text attached. And then it is not easy if you can’t speak the language yet.“With a player like Ademola Lookman, who played very little at Everton, it takes more time than with Christopher Nkunku, who made 29 games at PSG last year. That’s completely normal.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
OTTAWA – Sources say Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her team of negotiators are engaged in an intensive, late-stage effort to get Canada back into a trilateral trade deal with the United States and Mexico before Monday’s American-imposed deadline.With the release of the text of the U.S.-Mexico trade agreement expected any day, and Mexico’s new president-elect pushing the American side to make a deal with Canada, the political pressure is mounting to get a new North American Free Trade Agreement done in short order.Freeland, who will give Canada’s marquee speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday, was on a conference call Friday night with negotiators in Washington, who have been engaged in intensive talks all week, a source familiar with the effort told The Canadian Press.“The U.S. knows what they need to do to get a deal, so it’s really up to them,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of the talks.“We’re focused on the substance, not the timetable.”Indeed, analysts and insiders alike say the latest American-imposed deadline for Canada to join by Monday is not set in stone, and that there will still be time for the Liberal government to negotiate with the Trump administration after that.But they caution the window is closing and Canada’s time may be running out.Mexico and the United States announced their own bilateral deal last month, sparking a renewed round of negotiations between Washington and Ottawa to bring Canada into the NAFTA fold.The formal text needs to be released by Sunday so it can be presented to the U.S. Congress by the end of the month and fulfil a 60-day notice requirement that would allow lawmakers to approve it by Dec. 1 — before the newly-elected Mexican government takes power.Some reports said it could come as early as Friday, but that likelihood was fading after Reuters reported that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president-elect, had said he’d agreed to call on the U.S. to reach an agreement with Canada.Multiple sources told The Canadian Press the sticking points between Ottawa and Washington include dairy, preserving Canada’s cultural exemption and Canada’s insistence on preserving the Chapter 19, which allows for independent panels to resolve disputes involving companies and governments.One source said Chapter 19 has not survived the Mexico-U.S. deal, but Chapter 20, the government-to-government dispute settlement mechanism, has been preserved in its entirety.Mexican ambassador Dionisio Perez Jacome said his country still wants Canada to come on board, even if the deadline of the next few days comes and go.“Hopefully Canada can be included already in the text. If not, then the process gets more complicated, but it’s also possible to come in … some days after,” Perez Jacome said.Sources say Mexico is fine with the Trudeau government waiting past Monday’s Quebec election because it understands any concession it might be willing to make on allowing greater U.S. access to dairy would be a political bombshell in the final days of the provincial campaign.A source close to the negotiations told The Canadian Press that the vast majority of the U.S.-Mexico text — more than 20 of its approximately 30 chapters — is not the least bit contentious for Canada.That comes as no surprise to trade experts.Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, said major work has been completed on most of the chapters since Canada and the U.S. resumed talks.“They are closer now than they’ve ever been. There’s a potential landing strip in all of the negotiated areas.”Meredith Lilly, an international trade expert at Carleton University in Ottawa, said there’s virtually nothing in the text that will take Canadian negotiators by surprise.“They should have seen the text by now as part of earlier negotiations, as well as more recent bilateral negotiations,” she said.There’s no guarantee Congress would allow U.S. President Donald Trump to move forward with a two-country deal that excludes Canada because it originally granted him the authority to negotiate a three-country pact.Sarah Goldfeder, a former U.S. diplomat based in Ottawa, said she’s not sure Trump actually wants a deal with Canada before the U.S. midterm elections in November, because periodically beating up on Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a convenient channel-changer for a president beset by unfavourable news coverage.“It’s a deflection from a number of different problems,” she said.Trump says he will pursue a trade deal with or without Canada, and has repeatedly threatened to impose punitive tariffs on Canadian automobiles if a trilateral deal can’t be reached.He has already imposed hefty steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, using a section of U.S. trade law that gives him the authority to do that for national security reasons.The Trudeau government has branded the tariffs illegal and insulting given the close security relationship between Canada and the U.S., including their shared membership in Norad, which defends North American airspace.Mexico didn’t win any relief from the U.S. on the tariffs in their deal, but Canada is pushing hard for it in the current negotiations.“It will be really hard for negotiators to bring a deal back to Canada and say ‘I think we got a pretty good deal, but we didn’t get a release from these national security tariffs’,” said Dawson.“That’s going to make it very difficult to sell a deal at home.”— With files from James McCarten in Washington, D.C., and Dan Healing in Banff, Alta.
ARLINGTON, Va. – The United States is presenting a quadruple-whammy demand on auto manufacturing at the NAFTA negotiations, including a strict “Made In America” requirement with virtually no grace period to give car companies time to adjust.The proposal is viewed as a non-starter by virtually every party involved in automobile production: Canada, Mexico, U.S. industry and even labour groups were calling the proposal completely unattainable.It’s one of the biggest issues of the talks and it’s sure to provoke a backlash on multiple fronts.The U.S. negotiating team showed industry representatives their proposal to Canada and Mexico and it contained four ideas that would complicate auto production, several sources said Friday.First, it requires all cars to include 85 per cent North American content to avoid a tariff, up from the current 62.5 per cent; 50 per cent of a car’s content would have to come from the U.S.; and it would toughen the way content is calculated, with a list upgraded to include parts that didn’t exist in 1994 when NAFTA was originally implemented.A fourth irritant is the minuscule proposed phase-in period.Automakers would have one year to comply with the American-made quota and two years to comply with the overall North American content requirement under the proposal, which is a radical departure not only in substance but also in the timing of phase-in periods normally included in trade agreements.The demands are deemed so impractical the talk in the hallways at the conference site revolves around which of two objectives the Americans are trying to achieve: Sabotage the talks, or shock other parties into concessions.A Canadian auto-parts representative said he tends toward the latter.“My instinct is this is, ‘Art of the Deal,’” said Flavio Volpe. “There are those who think these are poison pills designed … to get the partners to leave the table.”The proposal came as the U.S. made its first significant move on dairy, a traditional sticking point with Canada. Several insiders said Friday the U.S. has asked Canada to scrap its special classifications benefiting domestic producers for things like diafiltered cheese-making products.The U.S. also wants a veto power over future Canadian classification changes.What’s already proposed would lead to changes in Canada’s supply-management system. The U.S. has not yet made any explicit request for a percentage of Canada’s protected dairy market. But that request could still come at any time.Earlier U.S. demands include a termination clause that would cancel NAFTA after five years, unless all parties agree to extend it, and a Buy American rule that would make it far more difficult for non-U.S. companies to bid for public projects.The auto proposal is so controversial, organizations that are normally rivals are allied against it. Volpe’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association says it could create a perverse incentive for producers to leave the continent.Their argument is that it’s far easier to ignore the NAFTA rules and simply pay the U.S. 2.5 per cent import tariff: “It’s not good for the Americans,” Volpe said. “It just doesn’t make sense from a business perspective.”The union representing Canadian auto workers agrees.Unifor’s Jerry Dias says the U.S. would never have the power to enforce the proposed changes because companies would just ignore it: “All this argument about 50 per cent, 70 per cent, 85 per cent, it means nothing as long as the U.S. has a 2.5 per cent tariff. It’s like the emperor with no clothes,” Dias said.“They can yell, scream, threaten, then people say, ‘Okay, here — I’ll pay the 2.5 per cent’.”He said it’s a moot point anyway because there’s no chance Canada or Mexico will ever agree to a NAFTA that looks like what the Americans are proposing.“Get it out of your head. That’s never gonna happen,” Dias said. “This is a deal that is going nowhere very quickly.”Scotiabank analysts agree the proposals would hurt their author.Car companies would have an incentive to move production away from the U.S., and Canada, either to Asia or Mexico, and pay a tariff rather than deal with the rules being proposed by the U.S., said its deputy chief economist.“If accepted, the U.S. (proposal) would be a pyrrhic victory,” said Brett House.House called the proposal a poor solution to a non-existent problem. Growth in auto employment since the Great Recession has skyrocketed in the U.S. to six per cent a year and he said North American content is on the rise in cars produced in Canada and Mexico, contrary to figures being floated by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.“There’s no problem here to address,” he said.One real problem, however, is stagnant wages: U.S. auto salaries have not seen an appreciable increase for years, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dias says that’s the problem everyone should be attacking — by increasing labour standards, especially in Mexico.
NEW YORK — A federal judge says a New York City law forcing Airbnb and HomeAway home-sharing platforms to reveal detailed information about its business seems unconstitutional.Judge Paul Engelmayer on Thursday blocked the law from taking effect on Feb. 2, finding there’s a greater than 50 per cent chance the companies would prevail on claims that the law violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.The ruling comes at an early stage of the litigation. Lawyers for the city and the companies will gather additional evidence before Engelmayer makes a final ruling.The city did not immediately comment.The San Francisco-based Airbnb in a statement called the ruling a “huge win.”The law was passed last summer.The Associated Press
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at her Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath for reportedly referring to the Indian Army as “Modi ji ki sena”, saying it was an “insult” and humiliation for the force.Chief Minister tweeted: “It is shocking to hear the UP CM saying that the Indian Army is the ‘Modi Sena’. Such blatant personalisation and usurping of our beloved Indian Army is an insult and a humiliation. We are proud of our Army. They belong to all. People of this country must stand up and reject this statement.” Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIt has become a trend for BJP leaders to talk about the air strikes during election campaigns despite severe criticism by the Opposition. In Chennai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently addressed a gathering and on the backdrop of the dais, there were pictures of jawans who died in the Pulwama terror attack. Banerjee said such blatant personalisation should be condemned. Earlier, she had alleged BJP leaders, spearheaded by Modi, are referring to the achievements of Indian Army to divert the attention of the people from core issues. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayIn another tweet on the foundation day of the Reserve Bank of India, Banerjee said the dignity of the RBI has diminished. She called for maintaining “the sanctity” of the central bank along with other institutions. “On this day in 1935, the Reserve Bank of India was established. Best wishes to all the employees of @RBI on this occasion. We have seen in recent times, how the dignity of this institution was diminished. The sanctity of these high offices must be maintained,” she tweeted. The RBI headquarters was initially established in Kolkata but in 1937 it was moved to Mumbai. Banerjee said time and again under the BJP’s autocratic rule the sanctity of the institutions had been ruined and they are working as a tool of the saffron brigade. Within half-an-hour, after Narendra Modi banned high-value currency notes, Banerjee had said it would severely affect the economic growth of the country. Later, many economists from India and abroad also said demonetisation would impede the nation’s economic health. At that time, Banerjee had also taken part in a dharna outside the RBI in Delhi. She wanted to know whether RBI officials were informed about the decision or not. Senior officials of RBI did not open their mouth but with time it came to light that no discussion with the then Governor RBI Urjit Patel was held before the announcement. Banerjee also alleged that institutions such as the Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence have been used to harass the Opposition leaders. Whenever the Opposition leaders raise their voice and ask questions about the failures of the Centre, the BJP use these institutions against these leaders to scare them. Yogi’s remark also provoked condemnation from the Congress, which called it an insult to the armed forces. The Election Commission has sought a report from the Ghaziabad district magistrate on the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s remark at a rally on Sunday, as it may violate the election code.
You have to feel for Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. Yes, Davis is being paid handsomely ($23 million) this season, and he’s had a solid 12-year major league career. But he currently finds himself mired in one of the most inglorious streaks in baseball history: zero hits in his past 49 at-bats, a new MLB record for futility.Davis broke the nearly 8-year-old mark set by former Dodgers infielder Eugenio Vélez, who went 0-for-46 over a 30-game span that lasted more than a calendar year. Vélez himself “surpassed” a record (45 at-bats) that Craig Counsell had tied earlier the same summer; the original 45-at-bat mark was set by Bill Bergen in 1909 and matched by Dave Campbell in 1973. Here’s a progression of all hitless streaks (among nonpitchers) that lasted 40 or more at-bats over time since 1908, the earliest season in Baseball-Reference.com’s game-level data:1This data set was compiled in part using Baseball-Reference’s Streak Finder but may be incomplete for streaks before 1973, when Baseball-Reference’s play-by-play data coverage begins. Before the season, FanGraphs’ depth chart projections called for Davis to hit just .200 this year, largely by virtue of the awful .168 mark he posted last season — already tied for 34th-worst ever by a hitter in a season that qualified for the batting crown. After Davis’s 0-for-28 start in 2019, FanGraphs now see him with a .193 projected batting average over the rest of the season, implying that they believe his true batting-average talent to be 7 points below the Mendoza Line. (Most of the time, players with extremely low batting averages have substantially higher true talent but are also very unlucky.) Combining that with the at-bats he’s already banked, Davis projects to finish the season with a .181 average, which would once again give him one of the 75 or so worst batting-average seasons in MLB history — for the second time in as many years. (So much for reversion to the mean!)But the irony is that Davis is actually hitting the ball better this season, at least according to MLB’s Statcast tracking system. Davis’s average exit velocity of 91.3 miles per hour is higher than it was in 2016 (90.8), when he hit 38 home runs and was a meaningful contributor to plenty of Oriole victories. The big problem is that Davis strikes out so much that he doesn’t have a chance to make use of those powerful swings. So far this season, he has struck out in 47 percent of his plate appearances, more than double the MLB average rate. (Last year, he struck out 37 percent of the time.)Although Davis ought to have broken out of his hitless streak by now — Statcast reports an expected batting average of .119 for Davis this season, based on the quality of his batted balls — his strikeout totals have made it impossible for him to be a functional hitter. The only real question is how much longer the Orioles will continue to pencil him into the lineup and give him more chances to extend the now-record streak of ineffective hitting.Check out our latest MLB predictions.CORRECTION (April 9, 2019, 7 p.m.): A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the hitless record tied by Craig Counsell. The record was 45 at-bats, not 45 games.
Some upsets aren’t as big as the seed lines suggest; some are bigger. Two years ago, the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils were upset by No. 15 Lehigh in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But Duke was the weakest No. 2 seed in 2012, according to the FiveThirtyEight projections that year, whereas Lehigh was unusually strong for a No. 15. Our model had given Lehigh a 10 percent chance of winning.Something of the same pattern held last season when No. 2 Georgetown lost to No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast in the first round. Georgetown was just the 15th-best team in the country, according to our ratings, and was badly overseeded as a No. 2. Our model gave that upset a 10 percent chance of occurring as well.This afternoon, as a No. 3 seed, Duke lost to 14th-seeded Mercer — but the Blue Devils (and the FiveThirtyEight model) have fewer excuses. In fact, Duke was the strongest No. 3 by some margin this year, according to our ratings and other indices like Ken Pomeroy’s power ratings. Our projections had Mercer with just a 7 percent chance of winning before the game began.
OSU Deputy Athletic Director Martin Jarmond highlights future OSU football schedules at the Fawcett Center. Credit: Lantern file photoOhio State University Deputy Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond will be the next Athletic Director at Boston College University, Boston College announced today.At OSU, Jarmond functioned directed external and internal relations and day-to-day operations of the athletics program, and served as sport administrator for Buckeye football, men’s basketball, baseball, and men’s and women’s golf programs.Jarmond was an integral part in compiling football schedules for OSU, which includes out of conference opponents until the year 2024. The Buckeyes will be playing teams like Oregon, Notre Dame and Texas at home over the next few seasons, thanks to the work of Jarmond.“I am humbled and honored to serve as the William V. Campbell Director of Athletics at Boston College,” Jarmond said in a statement. “I am grateful to (University President) Fr. Leahy and Boston College for entrusting me with this role. I have always believed that the commitment to high academic standards and competing at the highest level athletically are not mutually exclusive.”OSU Senior Vice President and Athletics Director Gene Smith, who has worked alongside Jarmond since 2009, said in a statement he was pleased to see his collegaue move to a prestigious position, but will also miss his presence.“Martin is one of the best administrators I have ever worked with,” Smith said. “His leadership skills are exceptional. It has been a tremendous honor working with him and watching him develop into a premier athletic administrator. His contributions to The Ohio State University have been significant, and he will be missed.”