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Category Archives: Socio-economic Collapse

Financial Black Swans Could Rock 2017 Stock Market …

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Looming Black Swans Could Hurt 2017 Stock Market Forecast

The current social and political conditions could lead the world economy to disaster. The financial markets have never been more susceptible to disruptive events. Yet the stock market forecast for 2017 has not taken the biggest risk into account.

This is nobodys fault, because no stock market forecast can possibly foresee the biggest risk. Most everybody can make a correct market prediction, even without knowing a thing about a stock, but nobody can predict a black swan event. The very nature of a black swan is to elude everyone, including Nostradamus himself.

The black swan theory, or the theory of black swan events, is a metaphor. Its a term to describe the concept that a heavy-impact event comes as a surprise to the observer. Once that happened, the event is rationalized in retrospect. The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain the weaknesses of such things as a stock market outlook or a stock market forecast.

High-impact events such as a black swan are not just rare and difficult, if not impossible, to predict. They play a disproportionate role compared to normal expectations in the context of history, science, technology and finance. A black swan event can only be recognized after the fact.

Heres what this means for where the stock market is headed. Geopolitics is key. Thus, it is important to increase the awareness of firms operating in international markets today, even more than in the past.

In 2017, the Venezuelan default and the growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran could be traumatic, leading to a potential collapse of oil prices and another war in the Middle East. Raw materials could be subject to extreme fluctuations in 2017.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the risk of a default in Venezuela may push up oil prices, possibly to unsustainable levels for emerging economies. Further, the situation in Ukraine and Russia is even more difficult to predict now.

During the Barack Obama presidential administration, it was clear that Washington sided with Ukraine, but President Donald Trump wants to improve ties to Moscow. That could encourage the latter to turn the situation back in its favor. Such tensions could boost the prices of industrial metals, given the strong role both countries have in mining.

Barclays Bank PLC has come up with a chart outlining some of the potential black swan events, as summarized below. Note, the threat type is what is affected by the potential black swan event. So, in the case of oil, its price would go up if the U.S. and Iran clash. The black swan in that case would be the spark that leads to the clash.

There is no way to assess the probability of such periodic rare events using scientific methods. By definition, a black swan event has a very low probability of occurring. Iteludes mathematics and statistics. Thus, an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center on September 1, 2001 was a black swan event.

Arguably, the discovery of how to make fire was a black swan, as was the big bang of the Big Bang Theory. In the purely financial context, black swans are rare. The 2007/2008 financial crisis was not a black swan, for example. It was all too predictable to those who had access to the information, or those willing to consider it.

Yet, most investors who work 40 hours a week have little time to check every detail that could affect their portfolios and retirement savings. To themthat is, to most peoplethe 2008 subprime crash certainly had the impact of a black swan. By stretching or altering the definition of black swan, we can analyze them to see where is the stock market headed.

A true black swan will make mincemeat of any stock market prediction. But the more liberally defined black swan event, described above as a heavy-impact event, can be very useful.

It turns out that 2017 will be a year dense with such heavy-impact events.

The first of these foreseeable black swans concerns the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It took years to negotiate and achieve, but it also took just one signature from Donald Trump to terminate the U.S.s participation. That was no black swan, however. Trump said he would scrap the deal during the election campaign.

The scrapping of the TPP will have consequences; it could spark a cascading chain of high-impact events. Given the global impact of these events, they will affect the stock markets. They can also produce a black swan, but we can only examine and predict events as the conclusion of ongoing processes.

To be clear, the end of the TPP is a hugedeal. Major investment banks like Goldman SachsGroup Inc (NYSE:GS)and the World Economic Forum (WEF)which just met at Davos a few weeks agofeared this. The reason for their worry is that, at the stroke of a pen, Trump has inaugurated a new era of protectionism.

Protectionism will be a major threat to the world economy in 2017. The risk that Trump would ditch the TPP agreement was well known months before the U.S. election. The TPP is such a threat because it compounds the effects of the Brexit which, while not a black swan per se, are unclear. Its not even clear whether the U.K. will go along with it.

The TPP and Brexit are mere reflections of the protectionist trend that should concern all investors. They reflect the fact that populist movements are strengthening. Yet, all the while, the migration crisis continues and the risk that many fear is another series of terrorist attacks. Again, these are not black swans in themselves, but they provide the basis for one.

Meanwhile in Asia, there is another known risk that could produce predictable and unpredictablehence black swanrepercussions. Chinas economy could implode because of unsustainable levels of debt. The Chinese debt bomb could slow Chinas economy and become an obstacle to global economic growth.

The geopolitical realm has within it the seeds of many risks for humanity in 2017. These include terrorist attacks and the inter-state conflicts resulting from the rising problems of regional and global ungovernability. International institutions will need to negotiate and work together to solve geopolitical and economic problems in 2017.

The geopolitical litany of risks with black swan potential is unprecedented in 2017. The closest period like this that comes to mind is World War 1. The worlds superpowers were experiencing a protectionist-fueled suspicion of each other. Meanwhile, rapidly changing technology on one hand and rapidly advancing revolutionary social movements on the other mixed to create economic and political TNT.

The black swan component that nobody could have predicted was a young man in Serbia called Gavrilo Princip. He murdered the archduke Franz Ferdinand, sending the spark that set off the TNT. That event on June 28, 1914 was unpredictable, and its timing and context produced World War 1, the risks of which had become rather obvious in the first decade of the 20th century.

That odd sensation that many investors get every day now reflects a similar scenario today. The next Black Swan event might be that one that sparks World War 3.

In 2016, Russia, South Africa and many other countries have withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Meanwhile, China has refused to accept the ICCs verdict on the territories in the South China Sea.

Trump has threatened to terminate the contract with Iran. Even if an agreement is reached over Syria and ISIS is defeated, the sentiment that produced the latter movement and the tensions in Syria remains. It will not simply vaporize.

ISIS might be gone, but its ideology has the advantage that anyone can adopt it. The mixture of dissent and mistrust that is brewing among the world powers has already paralyzed the United Nations (UN).

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU), which was formed after World War 2to act as a guarantee that no such war could break out again, has began to disintegrate.

Among the factors contributing to geopolitical tension is a deficit of trust. Countries accuse each other of interfering in their internal affairs. Look no further than the allegations from the U.S. Democratic Party that Russia interfered in the November presidential election to ensure that Trump would win.

In effect, nobody has proven that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks release of the John Podesta e-mails. But the media, many Americans, and others around the world have blamed Russia, fueling the mistrust among nuclear superpowers. In such an atmosphere, any number of events could turn out to be black swans for the next major international conflict.

Black swan events would only reveal themselves in retrospect after analysis of the one cause that sparked it. That is, if any analysts live to study it. Such black swans may result from the socio-economic risks like mass migration, the critical increase in inequality, and the polarization of society along ethnic, religious and cultural factors that could seriously complicate the situation in 2017.

The results of the U.K. Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election have shown that such factors seriously affect the situations in different countries. Then there is an escalating arms race involving the United States, Russia and, now China.

The risk of a black swan in the arms race context could certainly play on the explosive geopolitical context. The current arms race involves military robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Drones are merely an early generation of the military-technological evolution.

Robot soldiers are no longer the figment of a science-fiction writers imagination. In 2017, we are already bombarded by technological risks. Consider cyberattacks alone. These can take the form of fraud and data theft, defects in software that can cause a failure in the energy sector (nuclear reactor meltdown), transport, communications, etc.

Moreover, the rapid development of new technologies and robotics will make human labor increasingly obsolete. The fact that this coincides with an ever-growing population presents huge risks for unemployment and social instability. Therefore, it is the perfect storm for massive social unrest.

On top of that are otherrisks, such as natural disasters. These are virtually impossible to avoid. For all other risks, we can study processes and developments, trying to make sense of them. At best, we can predict what systems could be affected by a black swan event, although nobody knows what form this will take.

The very unpredictability of black swans is the stuff of intense philosophical debate. The unexpected is what moves the world forward (or backward). The advent of the Internet was a black swan. Designed as a military communications and security tool, nobody could have foreseen the role it has come to play in modern life and business.

Life rarely works exactly as you plan it. We must learn to live with uncertainties and deal with the unexpected. Black swans are reminders that, despite the combination of technological wonders, forecasting tools, and organizational devices, we are not able to defeat nature and chaos.

Therefore, its impossible to have an accurate stock market forecast based on black swans. But we can still analyze and pay attention to the kinds of risks from where black swans might arise, or where they may have an impact.

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Dailytimes | Terrorist resurgence – Daily Times

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:53 am

With almost a dozen terrorist attacks from Lahore to Sehwan and Peshawar to Balochistan this week, the terrorists have yet again struck Pakistan with a vengeance. Hundreds perished while many more have been maimed. The resurgence of this orgy of dreadful slaughter and mayhem by the forces of black reaction has shaken both the state and the society.

The shock and grief for the already traumatised masses aggravated their suffering, being inflicted through class oppression. For the ruling elites, it was the usual response of condemnations and the impotent rage to eradicate terrorism. The tragedy would soon pass into oblivion while the nauseating routine of hurling corruption allegations, scandals and bickering of the ruling elites warring factions captures the media and the social psyche in this period of social inertia. The surge of terrorist acts is not due to changes in the militarys high command as depicted by some media analysts but is the manifestation of a deeper socio-economic malaise.

The intrusion of religious fanaticism by General Zia at the behest of US imperialists to destroy the Afghanistans 1978 Saur Revolution has come back to haunt the imperialists and the Pakistani state. However, the official ideology indoctrinated in the states institutions, agencies and intrusions, in the constitutional clauses continues to be practised even today. The policies based on religious sectarian doctrines of Zias dictatorship have been pursued even by the secular and liberal democratic regimes, leading to the disastrous ramifications that are ravaging Pakistan.

These reactionary ethics are embedded in the attitudes of mainly the upper and middle rungs of the states institutions. There is a palpable reluctance in the sections of officials in taking any decisive action against these fundamentalist citadels indoctrinating hatred to the level of inculcating terrorist impulses in raw minds. These are run by obscenely rich Mullahs through the massive influx of black capital generated through crime and terror. The intrusion of dirty money in the structures of the state gives a material basis to this mindset and reactionary thinking. Nobody can predict when the so-called moderate clergy would morph into his terrorist version and vice-versa. For almost 40 years, the educational syllabi, and the societys morality and ethics have been shackled into these bigoted fetters. It is this sectarian hatred that provokes acts of terror and mayhem. Serious sections of the state and the ruling elite now feel threatened by the catastrophic devastation being perpetrated by these once compliant elements. The top echelons of state desperately want to eliminate this menace but not so hidden hands within the executive structures always succeed only in attacking selected targets during the states operations.

In the name of the national ideology of political Islam, the black mafia bosses heavily invest in the political parties, institutions and echelons of state power. They have eroded the discipline of the state structure and are now posing a threat to the civic existence of society. The desire for a substantial policy change by stakeholders of state and political power is a pipedream as they are compelled to continue the Zia-era policies benefitting the vested interests of the reactionary, corrupt, upstarts and crime infested ruling classes. It is this economic character of the present system that these political and state actors are destined to serve.

Proxy wars are strategies by the new states in a period where the national and world wars are unaffordable, unsustainable and could end up in the mutual destruction of the adversary elites. The involvement of a foreign hand cannot be excluded in this terrorist wave but laying all the blame on external factors actually conceals the failure of the state to eliminate terror and the complicity of certain official elements in the protection and nurturing of these reactionary forces for their vested interests. Now the successors of the mentors of these Frankenstein monsters are faced with the retribution of history. The mingling of these terrorists in the thickly populated cities and suburban towns makes it a herculean task to find and surgically remove them out of the population in general. Even though these religious bigots have a meagre support base amongst the masses, they have organised structures and an abundant capital. They can launch small demonstrations to pressurise the corrupt rulers with hundreds of destitute children seeking shelters from the socio-economic onslaught of capitalism in their seminaries. Such sectarian bastions exist in the hearts of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other cities and towns across the country indoctrinating sectarian hatreds. They defy the laws by bribing state officials and threatening the judiciary. Above all, they exploit the religious and sectarian sentiments of the states petit bourgeois functionaries.

But these policies of proxy conflicts and the exacerbating infightings of the varied capitalist interests are tearing apart the social fabric of the country. The collapse of the left and betrayals of traditional parties and leaders have further added to this apathy. The ultimate weapon to eradicate terrorism the peoples mobilisation is crucial to crushing these forces of black reaction. With no real revolutionary alternative in the political spectrum has blunted this revolutionary weapon of the class struggle. In the present state of inertia temporarily blanketing society, lumpen sections of the petit bourgeois youth despaired with the prospect of a bleak future can move towards such outfits in sheer frustration and commit such harrowing acts.

The neoliberal economics that replaced the failed Keynesianism model is rapidly intensifying inequality and social turbulence. The crisis of the capitalist system is so acute that its historical obsoleteness and economic bankruptcy has not only debilitated the state structures but also the surge of Islamic fundamentalist terror is a manifestation of this crisis. Terrorism can neither be eliminated through peace deals and agreements with these bestial creatures nor can it be crushed by the states that cast them as proxy options.

Without transforming the socio-economic material basis of these vile outfits the scourge of terrorism cannot be eliminated. This social, economic, political and administrative system is obsolete and beyond repair in its terminal decay. Only the mobilisations of the toiling classes can fight and vanquish religious terrorism and reactionary socio- cultural onslaught upon society by putting end to the system that needs these evils for its exploitation and ruler ship.

The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at ptudc@hotmail

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Who We Play For saving lives through athlete heart screenings – Tallahassee.com

Posted: at 11:53 am

One day, Cocoa Beach High soccer forward Rafe Maccarone was scoring a game-winning goal against nearby rival Titusville High.

The next day Friday, Nov. 30, 2007 the 15-year-old collapsed during a casual two-lap jog around the practice field.

Cocoa Beach soccer player Rafe Maccarone, 15, collapsed during a practice in 2007 and died the next day from a genetic heart condition. Many of his teammates later founded non-profit Who We Play For while students at FSU in an effort to screen student-athletes hearts while in youth sports. (Photo: Submitted photo/Florida Today)

He died later the next day, one week shy of his 16th birthday.

For Evan Ernst, a 2014 Florida State grad who was a senior on the Minutemens team at the time, it was a startling scene. His younger brother, Zack, was best friends with Maccarone.

That week and the weeks after have forever shaped Ernsts life.

We lost a couple state championships, we traveled the country and we had one of the best teams in the state, if not the country, said Ernst, 25. Its unexplainable, to be a 15-, 16-year-old kid and to be among your best friends and watch a kid just collapse and die in front of you. Its something pretty shocking.

But theres nothing more shocking than learning it was a detectable heart condition, it was preventable, and it represented thousands of people.

Maccarone never had a symptom. Doctors believe he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

It took two years before everyone learned that HCM, a genetic condition which thickens heart muscle and blocks normal blood flow was preventable.

Both Merritt Island and Cocoa Beachs soccer teams wore Rafe Maccarone’s number along with the words “Brevard’s Finest” on their jerseys during Merritt Island’s match at Cocoa Beach on Dec. 13, 2007. Maccarone collapsed at soccer practice and died on Dec. 1. (Photo: Amanda Stratford/Florida Today)

That moment, like Maccarones death, hit Ernst hard.

Bringing together all his best friends in Room 114 of their Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house at FSU, Ernst and 10 other kids hed known his whole life tossed around an idea.

We asked the crazy question Can we create a national movement to protect the hearts of student-athletes? Ernst said. And weve been working every single day for about five years to be able to do that.

Ernst, former Cocoa teammate Zane Schultz and his friends initially took up a fundraising cause, creating the Play for Rafe Foundation.

I knew pretty much exactly what I wanted to do, said Ernst, who majored in entrepreneurship, business management and marketing. I took classes that taught me how.

Who We Play For voluteered its time at Godby High School in December 2016 to provide heart screenings for student-athletes. From left: Christi Gao, Andre Walsh, Angela Byrne, Carmen Araujo, Kathryn Kaspar, Samantha Sexton, Evan Ernst, Quinn Rainer and Anthony Haddad. (Photo: Brian Miller/Democrat)

From the effort, they were able to provide automated external defibrillators for Cocoa Beach High and a Brevard County park to have onsite.

Out of that first incarnation, however, came the desire to do more than treat a condition as it occurred.

Who We Play For was born.

We realized that we talked everyday about Rafe and what he represents, Ernst said. And thats who we play for. Theres thousands of kids like him from Godby to FAMU to FSU that have lost their lives from detectable heart conditions.

Added Ernst: We were young, creative and felt undeterred. Because if we asked that question now, wed probably say its not possible. But we believed it, we were all in, and we committed to it.

And now weve built the biggest non-profit heart screening in the country, and it all started in that room.

The summer after that first meeting was spent in development. Three programs arose AEDs, CPR and heart screenings.

People were already making millions off AEDs; Ernst saw that need as checked off. CPR was also being taught everywhere by the American Heart Association.

But prevention was lacking. Ernst viewed it as the key.

In Rafes case and in most peoples case, if you had an AED or CPR on the spot, you only have a 38 percent chance of saving that persons life, Ernst said. Thats better than nothing, but on the flip side, if we deliver whats asked in the fine print on the physical form for high school or middle school athletes, then theres a 90 percent chance youre going to catch that condition before its even a problem.

Evan Ernst, an assistant soccer coach at Leon High School, works with the team on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Nine years ago, a teammate of Ernst died of a heart condition that if detected could have saved his life. Now, Ernst works to screen students for heart conditions in hopes of preventing the next generation from falling to the same fate. (Photo: Joe Rondone/Democrat)

Calling every single heart-screening group in the country, he asked how they do what they do. He tried to position Who We Play For to be more than just another well-intentioned nonprofit.

Florida State student-athletes and many at NCAA athletic programs get their hearts checked, as do pro athletes.

But for middle school and high school athletes, required physicals required dont go far enough in prevention. Much of that revolved around the cost for an electrocardiogram, which at the hospital would cost $150.

It can literally reduce sudden cardiac arrest in athletes by 94 percent, said Ernst, who found a group in Texas called Cypress ECG Project, which provided him a cost-efficient model.

The biggest cost associated was getting a pediatric cardiologist to read the screenings. By building a volunteer doctor network and using telemedicine, Who We Play For was able to drop the cost considerably.

Then Ernst and his group experimented with taking the heart screenings to schools during the school day.

We give every kid the opportunity to check their heart, whether they can afford the $15 or not, Ernst said. It has to be affordable. If this is ever to become standard, it has to be proven that we delivered dirt cheap.

Who We Play For has now screened middle and high school athletes in six states and over 300 schools. During this 2016-17 school year, it has screened 12,174 hearts. The overall total is now at 86,088 hearts.

Lives saved to date: 66.

Finding one heart condition, its as unexplainable as losing Rafe. There are no words, Ernst said. Its hard to believe every time.

On Jan. 14, 2014 just one week before Who We Play For provided its first Tallahassee screening Godby High School freshman Tariq Barfield was warming up for a track and field practice.

Suddenly, Barfield was dehydrated and woozy. Athletic trainer Jackie Burkette was on hand next to Cougars head coach Jesse Forbes.

Tariq Barfield, a freshman, was warming up for track practice at Godby High School when he collapsed suddenly and later died on Jan. 14, 2014. Barfield was determined to have a genetic heart condition that might have been detected with a simple five-minute heart screening. (Photo: Courtesy of the Barfield family/Democrat files)

The 14-year-old became more and more unresponsive. Burkette looked Barfield in the eye and asked if hed like her to call 9-1-1. He said yes.

An ambulance arrived and the EMS responders took him into its bay, sitting in the parking lot alongside the track before suddenly pulling out, lights on and siren blaring.

Barfield died that day.

The Leon County Medical Examiners Office gave the official cause of death: Sudden cardiac death with abridged left anterior descending coronary artery.

It was a detectable heart condition.

That was the worst day of my professional career, Burkette said. The worst thing that can happen as an athletic trainer is losing a kid like that. We didnt even find out until a couple days later that it was a congenital heart defect and theres nothing you can do for a situation like that.

When Ernst and Who We Play For did their first screening the week after the death, Barfields mother was there. They walked and talked and comforted each other.

That day, no Godby athletes came to the screening. It hurt Ernst deeply.

Godby athletic director Jackie Burkette was previously the schools athletic trainer. On Jan. 14, 2014, she witnessed the death of freshman student Tariq Barfield, who suffered cardiac arrest during a track workout. (Photo: Brian Miller/Democrat)

We realized Saturday screenings are great, but theyre catered around parents that have the resources to get their kids there, said Ernst, an assistant coach for Leon Highs boys soccer team. Its still an issue at hand that socio-economic status determines whether you get your heart checked or not. And thats a problem.

Thats when he decided to take the ECGs directly to schools.

In 2015, Burkette worked with athletic director Joy Becker to provide the first heart screening for Godby student-athletes.

Burkette, now the schools athletic director, had 70 athletes screened in December. They paid nothing thanks to Who We Play Fors search for grants and donations.

She keeps a picture of Barfield on the wall above her computer. It serves as a daily motivation to ensure her student-athletes are safe and protected. A simple heart screening could have saved Barfields life.

But at a Title-I school like Godby where 70 percent of students live below the poverty line, day-to-day survival often takes priority.

To have something like Who We Play For, which goes out on its own time to get grants to pay for my kids, its invaluable, Burkette said. Were able to test them for something they might not have had the opportunity to get before.

Andre Walsh was an energetic kid, running around St. Catherine, Jamaica, without a care in the world. By high school, Walsh had developed into one of his countrys top sprinters and hurdlers. He later competed for two years in the U.S. at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

He transferred to FSU in 2013. That triggered an automatic heart screening.

Walsh was diagnosed with acute viral respiratory disease. He underwent surgery for an implantable cardiac defibrillator. His doctor prescribed beta-blockers to keep his heart rate down. But there was a bigger blow.

Andre Walsh runs an ECG machine at Godby High School as part of screenings with non-profit Who We Play For. Walsh, who transferred in 2013 to FSU as top track runner, was diagnosed with a heart condition that ended his running career. (Photo: Brian Miller/Democrat)

Not yet 25, Walsh was forced into retirement. He could never race again.

Its scary to know that something could have happened during that whole time, but thankfully nothing did, said Walsh, now 27. Coming out of the blue, thinking about FSU and a possible career in track to having all that stripped away, it was hard.

Walshs depression lasted two years as he struggled to adjust to losing his livelihood. Without the structure of class and practice, he became less productive in school and in life. Eventually, he sought the help of a counselor to deal with the psychological effects

Given a chance at a normal life, Walsh started volunteering with Who We Play For. Slowly, he realized that having his dreams snatched away was not the worst thing in the world.

I was distraught and shocked, but then I realized the chance I got, said Walsh, who still cannot exercise or risk elevating his heart rate to dangerous levels. Speaking to Evan, I realized what was really going on and could see there were a lot of people who didnt survive it. That helped me a lot, to go out and speak to others about what would happen.

As one of many who have volunteered with Who We Play For, he was able to visit the Parent Heart Watch conference.

He saw parents who had lost their child to detectable heart conditions. His own parents could have easily been among them.

I saw and felt the immense pain, Walsh said. For Evan and Who We Play For putting in this initiative, it helps a lot to know we can catch this so that a tragic thing doesnt happen to another family.

Walsh is a success story.

Other FSU athletes, such as Harry Mulenga (track) and Leyla Erkan (tennis), have had heart conditions discovered by screenings.

There are those who survived through good fortune. Former Chiles High cheerleader Brittany Williams passed yearly physicals only to have her condition discovered at age 24.

Theres no registry, so we have no idea how many kids die from this and we have no idea how many kids been caught.

There are those who have died. Florida A&M student Antwan Ivey in 2014 seven years after rushing for a state-best 2,345 yards and 31 touchdowns during Newberry Highs state championship season.

Concussions, which are widely discussed as a major prep sports area of concern, didnt cause a single death last year. But not much is known about how many die from detectable heart conditions.

Sudden cardiac arrest, however, affects 9,500 youths annually and is the leading cause of death on campuses, according to Parent Heart Watch.

Doctors believe the most vulnerable age is between 15-16, influenced by puberty and strenuous exercise.

Who We Play For co-founder Evan Ernst runs a heart screening for Godby High School student-athletes in December 2016 (Photo: Brian Miller/Democrat)

One controlled-population study of NCAA athletes from a doctor in Washington on Who We Play Fors team determined an African-American Division-I basketball players rate of having a heart condition is 1 in 3,200. In total for NCAA student-athletes, it is 1 in 40,000.

Thats really the biggest question to what we do, Ernst said. Theres no registry, so we have no idea how many kids die from this and we have no idea how many kids been caught.

Ernst has no visions of fame and fortune. He just wants to spread his message of awareness from Cocoa Beach and Tallahassee to the far reaches of the nation.

I cover my bare minimum expenses, but Im definitely not making money, Ernst said. From the start, we wanted to be a non-profit because we never wanted anyone to question our incentives behind this. There will come a time in our lives when we can make money, but wed love to do this first.

Transforming from grassroots effort into global mission, Who We Play For is honoring Maccarones memory and saving lives along the way.

Our goal will be met when every student-athlete has a chance to check their heart, Ernst said. Were done when its not in the fine print, but when it is delivered.

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‘Colliery to start producing coke in April’ – Chronicle

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:48 am

Minister Walter Chidhakwa

Leonard Ncube in Hwange THE MINISTER of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa has said Hwange Colliery Company will start mining coke in April to facilitate exports to save the company that is reeling under debts amounting to $350 million.

He said this yesterday at a meeting that was convened at the companys offices after the Zanu-PF Youth League raised concerns to Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda.

Also present at the meeting were Hwange Senator Cde Thokozile Mathuthu who is also the Deputy Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, local traditional leaders, Chiefs Shana, Whange, Dingane-Nelukoba, Nekatambe and Acting Chief Mvuthu. Zanu-PF provincial members were also present.

Minister Chidhakwa said the Government would not allow HCCL to collapse because it is a strategic company.

Government position is very clear. This company is strategic to the survival of this country. Its strategic because power becomes a matter of national security which is why minerals are specified in the Minerals Act. Underground mining failed because the continuous miner machine broke down and $1 million is needed towards that. We hope to start producing coking coal in April and May, he said.

In his presentation, HCCL managing director Engineer Thomas Makore said the company will in April resuscitate underground mining and also start paying workers and creditors.

Eng Makore said the future of the company depends on it going back to underground coal mining to get the best coke for export, which fetches more money than thermal coal which it is producing.

We are deep in $350 million debt dating back to the $Zim era. We had three options which included closing the company and give in to creditors, go into judicial management and we opted for the third option of coming up with a scheme of arrangement which allows us to outline how we are going to pay creditors, said Eng Makore.

He said the arrangement with creditors needed approval from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

HCCL which employs more than 2 000 workers, produces 55 000 tonnes of coal per month, down from about 200 000 tonnes when the company was operating at full capacity.

The $350 million is due today and all creditors want their money today. We got $111,5 million Treasury Bills which are in the form of a loan and we will convert them into cash in the bank then pay creditors part of the debt over a period of seven to 10 years and employees over three years, he said.

HCCL success was premised on underground mining but we are still doing open cast mining hence we cant get high grade coke. This plan has been presented to the board and shareholder and we want to exercise our right to our 25 percent shareholder to take over assets so we can produce coke and sell to other countries. We are going to implement the plan next month and we expect a yes vote from creditors today. A no vote means the company goes into judicial management and closes and thats bad for everyone.

Eng Makore said last December, the company started paying its workers who had endured 36 months without pay starting with lower grades who got $200 each while those earning $400 and above will be getting 50 percent of their outstanding salaries.

Eng Makore said the company was geared to implementing measures to reduce costs.

Adv Mudenda challenged Government to link with other strategic partners saying failure of Hwange Colliery affects socio-economic life in Hwange.

Cde Mathuthu implored Government to buy out the other shareholders who she said were not showing concern about the demise of HCCL.

– @ncubeleon.

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Zimbabwe: A Crisis Unfolding – Zimbabwe | ReliefWeb – ReliefWeb

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:53 am

Published: February 16, 2017 | By Nick Hanson-James

Zimbabwe is facing an imminent crisis that will require an international humanitarian response in the near to medium-term future, with appropriate security measures for humanitarian workers. The dire economic situation precipitated, according to economists, by disastrous indigenisation policies that have choked foreign investment, the exhaustion of Foreign Exchange reserves and a collapse in commodity prices, combined with an estimated 80% unemployment rate, the worst drought in 35 years and outbreaks of communicable diseases paint a bleak future for Zimbabweans. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) predicts that 4.4 million Zimbabweans may not have enough food to eat this year. Humanitarian assistance will be the only hope for millions but will involve considerable operational difficulties.

Security

Robert Mugabe, President since 1985, is now 93 and in failing health. With no nominated successor, political jostling and infighting have broken out in his ZANU-PF party ahead of the presidential elections planned for 2018. A familiar pattern of ZANU buying votes with gifts of land and food to the party faithful has started, with a ban on demonstrations in Harare. Of greater concern, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) is divided; since independence, the ZNA has been the primary agent to maintain order and civil stability. As its grip on power splits, the prospect of escalating civil disturbances and a potential military coup become more likely.

There are signs of change: social media campaigns have highlighted Zimbabweans dissatisfaction with the government, while Church groups have voiced their concerns; NGO contact with such groups is likely to come under scrutiny, so discretion should be exercised. Government crackdowns are underway, and the detention and mistreatment of activists have increased 50% this year. A social media law has been passed that allows the state to seize smartphones, laptops or other devices that allow Zimbabweans to communicate. NGOs in Zimbabwe must be aware that communications may be monitored, and IT equipment may attract attention from the authorities. Informers report any social media activity deemed anti-ZANU to the government. NGOs should make contingency plans for the detention of staff, but should also prepare for a rapid deterioration in national security. NGO workers in Zimbabwe have also reported that South African border guards will now only issue five day stays for travellers from Zimbabwe, rather than official visas, and furthermore, long delays at border crossings are the norm. This should be factored into any plans relating to evacuation by road.

Health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated in 1985 that Zimbabwes health system was amongst the best in the developing world. 30 years later, healthcare in Zimbabwe has broken down. Healthcare facilities are running below 30% of their capability, with chronic shortages of drugs and medical staff. The prohibitive price of medicines from private suppliers means that: 64% of Zimbabweans are unable to access healthcare and curable ailments are often fatal. Accessing the cash to pay for drugs is difficult.

Running water is only available in urban areas for one or two days per week; families have taken to storing 20 and 50 litres of uncovered containers of water, increasing the risk of water- and mosquito-borne diseases in towns. Authorities have issued typhoid and cholera alerts. Experts predict that with the arrival of the rainy season this situation will worsen, as drinking water becomes contaminated. In 2008, 100,000 Zimbabweans were affected by an outbreak of cholera with 4,000 recorded deaths; if this reoccurs, the crippled healthcare system will collapse.

Organisations intending to work in Zimbabwe should ensure that they have supplies of medicines at their disposal, as these will be hard to access in-country. These should include analgesics, water purification tablets, antibiotics and rehydration kits. With an estimated 15% HIV infection rate, PEP kits should be kept for use both by international and local staff. Plans for medical evacuation to South Africa should be made for more serious illnesses.

Finance

Withdrawing money from banks involves queuing for several days (people sleep on the streets to save their places), and when banks do hold cash, withdrawals are strictly rationed to US$ 200 per day for organisations and US$ 50 per day for individuals. Informants have reported the theft of forex directly from their organisations accounts by the authorities. To mitigate this, exact amounts of forex to cover specific costs should be made from overseas, and the money transferred to the recipients as quickly as possible. In such economic conditions, organisations have strengthened their standard operating procedures (SOPs) for handling cash, due to the added risks of crime.

With the price of commodities falling in international markets, the government finds itself backed into a corner. ZANU abandoned the Zim$ for the US$ in 2009 to counter the effects of hyperinflation. However, Foreign Exchange reserves have been exhausted paying the salaries of civil servants and the security forces; in July the government was unable to pay employees and a general strike paralysed the country. In November 2016, the government issued Bond Notes to replace the foreign currency in everyday transactions. This has already sparked further demonstrations and social unrest given that the effects of hyperinflation are still fresh in the populations memories. Journalists are already reporting a rise in extra-judicial detentions and the torture of detainees.

Police are now reduced to extorting money from drivers at roadblocks by imposing fines to buy food or to contribute towards the payment of their colleagues salaries. Organisations have advised that to avoid fines being imposed at roadblocks, ensure that vehicles are fully serviced and compliant with traffic regulations (e.g. carrying required equipment). While this may work in some instances, organisations will need to discuss their policy towards corruption and put the relevant SOPs in place.

Fuel and Logistics

The situation is rapidly deteriorating and in February 2016 the government declared a national state of disaster. The cost of food is rising due to the drought while fuel supplies are dwindling and shortages of petrol make transport difficult. NGOs have found that purchasing fuel coupons that guarantee access to reserved supplies is the only way to guarantee to be able to operate. These coupons are also used as an unofficial second currency as foreign exchange bank notes become scarcer. Humanitarians operating in Zimbabwe should be aware of the logistical challenges posed by roadblocks and fuel shortages that make operating in more inaccessible areas such as Matabele Land (where much humanitarian activity is concentrated), much more difficult. Aid workers should be aware of the logistical limitations when working in remote areas and factor this into their planning.

Diaspora

Since 2008, an estimated 5,000 Zimbabweans have left the country each day. There are approximately four million Zimbabweans living abroad, most illegally in surrounding countries where their presence is creating socio-economic pressures on, and tensions with, local communities. The majority work in the informal, low-wage sector. Their financial remittances are low and have had little effect in bolstering Zimbabwes economy while pressuring the economies of its neighbours. Host governments have now started to expel Zimbabwean migrants. If large numbers of migrants return to a country unable to support them, then the stage appears to be set for a humanitarian crisis with the potential to destabilise both Zimbabwe and its neighbours. At the moment, there is no incentive for Zimbabwean diaspora to return to Zimbabwe. However, if forced repatriations increase, then the potential for social instability, combined with the increased pressure on limited resources, may well lead to civil disturbance in many areas of the country. This should be factored into any evacuation or crisis response plans.

Zimbabwes position appears grim. Zimbabwe has become internationally isolated due to its internal and external policies and has burnt its bridges with agencies such as the International Monetary Fund, that could have offered possible lifelines. The humanitarian community should prepare to intervene and operate should Zimbabwes fragile systems finally collapse, in what will be a challenging and difficult environment to operate in.

Sources and Further Reading

Why Zimbabweans are spending the night outside banks, BBC, 9 November 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37910072

Zimbabwes Government Prepares to Defend Itself, Stratfor, 4 August 2016, https://www.stratfor.com/sample/analysis/zimbabwes-government-prepares-d…

No cash, no cure: Zimbabwes hospitals buckle amid economic crisis, The Guardian, 14 July 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/14/no-cash-no-cure-zimbabwes-…

Zimbabweans Facing Difficulties in Accessing Health Care, Voice of America, 17 May 2016, http://www.voazimbabwe.com/a/zimbabwe-access-to-healthcare/3334353.html

Interviews with key informants

Zimbabwe, MSF, undated, http://www.msf.org/en/where-we-work/zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, SABC, undated, http://www.sabc.co.za/news/tag/Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, International Rescue Committee, undated, https://www.rescue.org/country/zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean, undated, http://thezimbabwean.co

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Financial Black Swans Could Rock 2017 Stock Market Forecast – Lombardi Letter

Posted: at 1:53 am

Looming Black Swans Could Hurt 2017 Stock Market Forecast

The current social and political conditions could lead the world economy to disaster. The financial markets have never been more susceptible to disruptive events. Yet the stock market forecast for 2017 has not taken the biggest risk into account.

This is nobodys fault, because no stock market forecast can possibly foresee the biggest risk. Most everybody can make a correct market prediction, even without knowing a thing about a stock, but nobody can predict a black swan event. The very nature of a black swan is to elude everyone, including Nostradamus himself.

The black swan theory, or the theory of black swan events, is a metaphor. Its a term to describe the concept that a heavy-impact event comes as a surprise to the observer. Once that happened, the event is rationalized in retrospect. The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain the weaknesses of such things as a stock market outlook or a stock market forecast.

High-impact events such as a black swan are not just rare and difficult, if not impossible, to predict. They play a disproportionate role compared to normal expectations in the context of history, science, technology and finance. A black swan event can only be recognized after the fact.

Heres what this means for where the stock market is headed. Geopolitics is key. Thus, it is important to increase the awareness of firms operating in international markets today, even more than in the past.

In 2017, the Venezuelan default and the growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran could be traumatic, leading to a potential collapse of oil prices and another war in the Middle East. Raw materials could be subject to extreme fluctuations in 2017.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the risk of a default in Venezuela may push up oil prices, possibly to unsustainable levels for emerging economies. Further, the situation in Ukraine and Russia is even more difficult to predict now.

During the Barack Obama presidential administration, it was clear that Washington sided with Ukraine, but President Donald Trump wants to improve ties to Moscow. That could encourage the latter to turn the situation back in its favor. Such tensions could boost the prices of industrial metals, given the strong role both countries have in mining.

Barclays Bank PLC has come up with a chart outlining some of the potential black swan events, as summarized below. Note, the threat type is what is affected by the potential black swan event. So, in the case of oil, its price would go up if the U.S. and Iran clash. The black swan in that case would be the spark that leads to the clash.

There is no way to assess the probability of such periodic rare events using scientific methods. By definition, a black swan event has a very low probability of occurring. Iteludes mathematics and statistics. Thus, an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center on September 1, 2001 was a black swan event.

Arguably, the discovery of how to make fire was a black swan, as was the big bang of the Big Bang Theory. In the purely financial context, black swans are rare. The 2007/2008 financial crisis was not a black swan, for example. It was all too predictable to those who had access to the information, or those willing to consider it.

Yet, most investors who work 40 hours a week have little time to check every detail that could affect their portfolios and retirement savings. To themthat is, to most peoplethe 2008 subprime crash certainly had the impact of a black swan. By stretching or altering the definition of black swan, we can analyze them to see where is the stock market headed.

A true black swan will make mincemeat of any stock market prediction. But the more liberally defined black swan event, described above as a heavy-impact event, can be very useful.

It turns out that 2017 will be a year dense with such heavy-impact events.

The first of these foreseeable black swans concerns the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It took years to negotiate and achieve, but it also took just one signature from Donald Trump to terminate the U.S.s participation. That was no black swan, however. Trump said he would scrap the deal during the election campaign.

The scrapping of the TPP will have consequences; it could spark a cascading chain of high-impact events. Given the global impact of these events, they will affect the stock markets. They can also produce a black swan, but we can only examine and predict events as the conclusion of ongoing processes.

To be clear, the end of the TPP is a hugedeal. Major investment banks like Goldman SachsGroup Inc (NYSE:GS)and the World Economic Forum (WEF)which just met at Davos a few weeks agofeared this. The reason for their worry is that, at the stroke of a pen, Trump has inaugurated a new era of protectionism.

Protectionism will be a major threat to the world economy in 2017. The risk that Trump would ditch the TPP agreement was well known months before the U.S. election. The TPP is such a threat because it compounds the effects of the Brexit which, while not a black swan per se, are unclear. Its not even clear whether the U.K. will go along with it.

The TPP and Brexit are mere reflections of the protectionist trend that should concern all investors. They reflect the fact that populist movements are strengthening. Yet, all the while, the migration crisis continues and the risk that many fear is another series of terrorist attacks. Again, these are not black swans in themselves, but they provide the basis for one.

Meanwhile in Asia, there is another known risk that could produce predictable and unpredictablehence black swanrepercussions. Chinas economy could implode because of unsustainable levels of debt. The Chinese debt bomb could slow Chinas economy and become an obstacle to global economic growth.

The geopolitical realm has within it the seeds of many risks for humanity in 2017. These include terrorist attacks and the inter-state conflicts resulting from the rising problems of regional and global ungovernability. International institutions will need to negotiate and work together to solve geopolitical and economic problems in 2017.

The geopolitical litany of risks with black swan potential is unprecedented in 2017. The closest period like this that comes to mind is World War 1. The worlds superpowers were experiencing a protectionist-fueled suspicion of each other. Meanwhile, rapidly changing technology on one hand and rapidly advancing revolutionary social movements on the other mixed to create economic and political TNT.

The black swan component that nobody could have predicted was a young man in Serbia called Gavrilo Princip. He murdered the archduke Franz Ferdinand, sending the spark that set off the TNT. That event on June 28, 1914 was unpredictable, and its timing and context produced World War 1, the risks of which had become rather obvious in the first decade of the 20th century.

That odd sensation that many investors get every day now reflects a similar scenario today. The next Black Swan event might be that one that sparks World War 3.

In 2016, Russia, South Africa and many other countries have withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Meanwhile, China has refused to accept the ICCs verdict on the territories in the South China Sea.

Trump has threatened to terminate the contract with Iran. Even if an agreement is reached over Syria and ISIS is defeated, the sentiment that produced the latter movement and the tensions in Syria remains. It will not simply vaporize.

ISIS might be gone, but its ideology has the advantage that anyone can adopt it. The mixture of dissent and mistrust that is brewing among the world powers has already paralyzed the United Nations (UN).

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU), which was formed after World War 2to act as a guarantee that no such war could break out again, has began to disintegrate.

Among the factors contributing to geopolitical tension is a deficit of trust. Countries accuse each other of interfering in their internal affairs. Look no further than the allegations from the U.S. Democratic Party that Russia interfered in the November presidential election to ensure that Trump would win.

In effect, nobody has proven that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks release of the John Podesta e-mails. But the media, many Americans, and others around the world have blamed Russia, fueling the mistrust among nuclear superpowers. In such an atmosphere, any number of events could turn out to be black swans for the next major international conflict.

Black swan events would only reveal themselves in retrospect after analysis of the one cause that sparked it. That is, if any analysts live to study it. Such black swans may result from the socio-economic risks like mass migration, the critical increase in inequality, and the polarization of society along ethnic, religious and cultural factors that could seriously complicate the situation in 2017.

The results of the U.K. Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election have shown that such factors seriously affect the situations in different countries. Then there is an escalating arms race involving the United States, Russia and, now China.

The risk of a black swan in the arms race context could certainly play on the explosive geopolitical context. The current arms race involves military robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Drones are merely an early generation of the military-technological evolution.

Robot soldiers are no longer the figment of a science-fiction writers imagination. In 2017, we are already bombarded by technological risks. Consider cyberattacks alone. These can take the form of fraud and data theft, defects in software that can cause a failure in the energy sector (nuclear reactor meltdown), transport, communications, etc.

Moreover, the rapid development of new technologies and robotics will make human labor increasingly obsolete. The fact that this coincides with an ever-growing population presents huge risks for unemployment and social instability. Therefore, it is the perfect storm for massive social unrest.

On top of that are otherrisks, such as natural disasters. These are virtually impossible to avoid. For all other risks, we can study processes and developments, trying to make sense of them. At best, we can predict what systems could be affected by a black swan event, although nobody knows what form this will take.

The very unpredictability of black swans is the stuff of intense philosophical debate. The unexpected is what moves the world forward (or backward). The advent of the Internet was a black swan. Designed as a military communications and security tool, nobody could have foreseen the role it has come to play in modern life and business.

Life rarely works exactly as you plan it. We must learn to live with uncertainties and deal with the unexpected. Black swans are reminders that, despite the combination of technological wonders, forecasting tools, and organizational devices, we are not able to defeat nature and chaos.

Therefore, its impossible to have an accurate stock market forecast based on black swans. But we can still analyze and pay attention to the kinds of risks from where black swans might arise, or where they may have an impact.

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Gambia: The New Gambia Are We Ready For Business – Freedom Newspaper

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:50 pm

The new Gambia reminds me of the revolutionary struggles against colonialism waged and won by countries like Angola, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Those struggles, like ours for this new Gambia, involved all and sundry from the opposition politicians to the Gambians living in the diaspora, to the market woman and the cripple in his or her wheel chair. This new independence was fought and won by all. Now that President Adama Barrows government is appointing the new ministers and technocrats to usher in the new Gambia, business as usual will no longer be viable.

History has recorded the earth moving contributions of ancient Greeks such as Aristotle, Thales, Socrates, Archimedes and Pythagoras in the fields of Science, Philosophy, Mathematics and Astronomy, etc. The common thread among all these great thinkers was that they all went to Ancient Egypt and studied under the tutelage of Africans. They might have been going back and forth to Ancient Greece as semesters in their bling blings during school recesses; nonetheless, they all completed their studies and went back to Ancient Greece. Their contributions have positively affected the rest of humanity until this day. That spirit of civilization and nation building can be ushered in The Gambia with the dedication, contribution and hard work from all Gambians. The idea of self-entitlement and that; government is the answer to all problems have to undergo collective and societal repudiation.

One of the biggest contributors as a block for the victory of President Barrows coalition government is the Gambian Diaspora. These Gambian citizens abroad contributed moneys, moral support, political advice and logistical support among many. They are more than ever needed to be involved in the socio-economic development of this new Gambia. Some of them may be hired as technocrats and bureaucrats in this new government but the vast majority who have technical and /or business experience may rather opt for the private sector instead. Many Gambians abroad are endowed with successful careers in Business, Finance, Engineering, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Management, Mass Communications, Agronomy, Mechanized and Commercial Farming & Fishing, Medical fields and Pharmacology to name a few. These avant gardes in the Diaspora like the Ancient Greeks who studied in Ancient Egypt, must not be ignored or sidelined in this new Gambian dispensation.

The coalition government has a duty to engage this block of Gambians to entice and reverse the brain drain, help repatriate their capital (human and material) back home and to create a more business friendly environment. It is said that, the dollar goes to where it is appreciated and this is a cardinal truth in enticing capital and investment. Where there is a flow of investment, there are jobs being created. We have seen the flight of capital and investment, the collapse of the light manufacturing industry, the collapse of the agricultural sector, the collapse of the re-export trade, the dwindling of tourism, and many more sad realities. Our youths have adversely become casualties of the debacle of a dictatorial system. Where there are no jobs or hope for the future, the back way becomes the viable alternative.

This coalition government is mandated to politically and legally clean up the mess created during the last 22 years and tidy it up to a level playing field for the future governments to come. We do not expect for this coalition government to embark on massive white elephant projects. Instead we are looking forward to constitutional reform, electoral reform, investment and tax reform, diplomatic reform, international treaty reforms, etc. Business as usual is no longer viable. The involvement of Gambians in the diaspora is urgently needed if this new independence is to be sustainable. It is not wise to totally relinquish and partition off your economy to outside forces whose bottom line is to transfer abroad whatever gains they make here. Heavy Gambian participation and stewardship of the economy are vital. These are some recommendations for the coalition government:

Similar policies are currently being manifested in countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Botswana. No wonder most of them are called the Economic Tigers of Africa today.

We are witnessing the support coming from the European Union and the World Bank. These funds must be put into good use. The government should avoid creating more and more bureaucracies. It is my opinion that when only bureaucrats meet to design policies regarding job creation and tax relief, more unnecessary levels of bureaucracies result instead of jobs being created. Consultation with the private sector in developing policies is vital. Besides youth training schemes, capacity building and deficit spending reduction, etc., some of these funds should be allocated for tax relief to potential Gambian Diaspora investors and suffering businesses at home to help bring back the many private sector jobs that have been lost over the years. If the government succeeds in creating an environment for a more vibrant private sector economy, self-entrenchment, redundancy and corruption in the public sector will dissipate significantly. Worthy civil servants in the public sector will briefly serve their quota in government knowing that they can join a vibrant private sector eventually. The sense of nationalism has dawned in this new Gambia thereby requiring a paradigm shift. Policies of the 20th century may not be practical in the 21st century. The first republic ingeniously developed the re-export trade into a successful sector. The second republic squandered that sector thereby giving Senegal the competitive edge. Subsequently our re-export trade volume and currency adversely suffered. So we must not cry over spilt milk or play second fiddle in the re-export trade competition given the reality of our geographical disadvantage. We must think outside the box again to steer Gambia into a brighter future. We must think and act globally in making and selling products and services that are unique and second to none. In closing, I believe that the new Gambia will be ready for business.

Written by: Musa Sallah, Brufut, The Gambia

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SA needs a law addressing land restitution without compensation – Nkwinti – News24

Posted: at 12:45 am

Cape Town A single law should be developed to address the issue of land restitution without compensation, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.

Debating President Jacob Zumas State of the Nation (SONA) address in the National Assembly, the minister outlined what needed to be done to achieve the goal of radical socio-economic transformation in relation to land reform.

A pre-colonial audit of land ownership, use and occupation needed to be done, he said.

“Once the audit has been completed, a single law should be developed to address the issue of land restitution without compensation. The necessary constitutional amendments should be undertaken to effect this process,” he said.

What also needed to be done was to redesign and establish the National Land Claims Commission as a Chapter 9 Institution, he said.

He said one of the most serious challenges facing the implementation of the land reform programme related to incoherent institutional transformation.

‘White man in black skin’

Nkwinti said the Western Cape was the only province that charged government for township land.

They were going to work on legislation to force them to transfer the land freely to the people, he said.

Members of Parliament used the debate to hit out at each other, and to bemoan the state of the country.

Taking a stab at DA leader Mmusi Maimane, ANC MP Bongani Mkongi said he was not surprised that the DA had started labelling the youth the “lost generation”.

“They called us a lost generation because we were at the edge of victory for our people and freedom. And they didnt want that. The youth of this country should refuse to allow a white man in black skin to stand here today and demonise them, he said, before he was called to order.

‘Politics of patronage’

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi told MPs that failed leadership was robbing the people of hope.

“Our people are desperate for something real. Real hope and real solutions.”

White monopoly capital was now the scapegoat for failed leadership on economic policy, he said.

United Democratic Alliance leader Bantu Holomisa acknowledged the great strides made in the country since 1994.

“The most disturbing reality is that we see an increase in the politics of patronage, uncontrollable corruption, the collapse of government institutions, a high unemployment rate, lack of development, failing health and education systems, widening inequality, chronic poverty and ineffective provincial governments.”

As a parting shot, he said the country could not be led by thieves and people who abused government funds.

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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$294 million secured for Kariba dam rehabilitation – Bulawayo24 News (press release) (blog)

Posted: at 12:45 am

The signing of the agreement sets the tone for mega capital works on the dam wall’s plunge pool and spillway gates as a mitigation measure to avert the collapse of the dam wall.

The measures follow assessments done by an international engineering consultant, whose findings pointed to an eroding dam wall foundation at the point of the spillway plunge, east of the giant structure in the Zambezi river.

The reshaping of the plunge pool and refurbishment of the six spillway gates will allow the Zambezi River Water Authority, who manage the facility, to open all the six flood gates when necessity demands so.

This will ensure the dam operates safely guaranteeing the safety of millions of people who live downstream the water body.

Zambian finance minister Felix Mutati and his Zimbabwean counterpart Patrick Chinamasa described the project as a landmark development central to the security of power supply , which is a critical factor driving the industrialisation agenda and the general socio-economic development.

Head of European delegation to Zambia Ambassador Alessandro Mariani views the project as a symbol of solid and dynamic partnership between Zimbabwe and Zambia, while for the World Bank, the safety of the dam wall is not only central to energy security, but a guarantee for sustainable regional economic development.

An additional emergency spillway gate will also be created in case the current six crush or jam.

The project is to be implemented by a French engineering firm, Razel-Bec, while funding partners are the European Union, African Development Bank, the World Bank and Swedish government, with the Zambezi River Water Authority chipping in US$19.2 million of the total project cost expected to last three years.

If no mitigation measures are taken to rehabilitate and reshape the plunge pool, the dam wall run the risk of collapsing, a situation that will have disastrous flooding consequences on the environment and on three million people mainly in Mozambique, Malawi and even Tanzania .

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Zuma’s interventions will deal with white monopoly capital – Office of ANC Chief Whip – Politicsweb

Posted: February 12, 2017 at 7:48 am

POLITICS Zuma’s interventions will deal with white monopoly capital – Office of ANC Chief Whip

Moloto Mothapo |

12 February 2017

Reprehensible and deeply embarrassing conduct of opposition MPs at SONA deeply disturbing

MATTERS RELATING TO THE STATE OF THE NATION ADDDRESS

The ANC in Parliament welcomes Presidents Zumas plan for radical economic transformation as presented in his State of the Nation Address last night. The speech demonstrated commitment to fundamentally change the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female.

As the ANC in this Parliament, we are poised to hold the executive accountable on the commitments it has made to the nation in relation to radical socio-economic transformation.

We are committing ourselves to thoroughly consult the people on every Act that facilitates radical socio-economic transformation, including those that have been referred back to parliament, such as the Expropriation Bill and the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act. We acknowledge that in some cases the NCOP has defaulted on ensuring meaningful public participation. We will ensure that that all our people are sufficiently involved in the law-making processes as they impact on their lives.

We welcome the new regulations that make it compulsory for big contractors to subcontract 30% of business to black owned enterprises which were gazetted last month. We further welcome the anticipation of new legislation which will among others address the need to have a more inclusive economy and de-concentrate the high levels of ownership and control we see in many sectors. These interventions will go a long way in dealing with white monopoly capital and ensuring that all South Africans are able to participate in the economy of our country.

On land, we note the need for parliament to speed up the process of the Expropriation Bill in order to pursue land reform and land redistribution. We further welcome the announcement of a draft Property Practitioners Bill which will be published by the Department of Human Settlements for public comment with the purpose of establishing a more inclusive, representative sector, towards radical economic transformation.

We are pleased with the announcement that this government will in the remaining years of this administration focus on relooking the NSFAS threshold of R122 000 to allow the poor and working class greater access to higher education.

The African National Congress in Parliament is deeply disturbed by the reprehensible and deeply embarrassing conduct of Members of Parliament which displayed itself last night in full view of the national and the international community during the occasion of the 2017 State of the Nation Address.

The annual State of the Nation Address presents an opportunity for government to account to the public on its performance and to present its set of priorities for the future. South Africans, the majority of whom are Black and poor, look forward to this important annual presidential address to hear how their government plans to continue to respond to their socioeconomic challenges and improve their conditions of life. For its part, Parliament is enjoined by the Constitution to enable a platform for the executive to report regarding its work and to conduct oversight over its performance.

When Members of Parliament connive in order to prevent the executive from accounting to the people, they are not only guilty of dereliction of their Constitutional function but they are also in violation of the right of South Africans to hear and hold their government to account. Public representatives should not be a barrier between the people and the government they have elected. Parliament is the uppermost representative body of the people that represents their democratic will, hopes and aspirations. Any attack on the institution or obstruction of its Constitutional function represents a direct onslaught on the people.

The happenings at Parliament last night are a national shame that, if not thoroughly and decisively nipped in the bud, will destroy the mainstay of our constitutional democracy. Blood, sweat and tears were shed for the attainment of this democracy, together with one of the best constitutions in the world, for it to be destroyed by unbridled acts of anarchy which show scant regard for the law, the rules, the Constitution and the people to whom Parliament belongs. The people of South Africa must rise up and speak out against this rampant anarchy and protect their public institutions.

The conduct of the EFF Members of Parliament last night, which involved blatant acts of criminality and intimidation, is the clearest indication yet that the Partys resoluteness to render dysfunctional and subsequently destroy one of the most important institutions of the people. When a party of few MPs violate the rules and procedures of Parliament at will, and even unleashes violence against those tasked with preserving and maintaining the orderly management of the House, then our national liberty is at stake. This cannot be allowed to continue.

As part of a clearly orchestrated plan to obstruct this years first sitting of Parliament, EFF MPs yesterday transgressed all rules governing joint sittings of the two Houses of Parliament. They rose in a synchronised chaotic fashion insisting on frivolous points of order which have no basis in the law or rules, unleashed a torrent of profanity at the President, the Presiding Officers and the House while demonstrating utter contempt for the public.

In the face of extreme provocation and vulgarity, the presiding officers displayed great restraint, patience and reasonableness delaying the Presidents speech for over an hour before correctly ordering the removal of the EFF MPs. EFFs response to this procedural mechanism provided for in the rules was violence: beating the parliamentary protection staff with fists and helmets and pelting them with water bottles and other objects. A number of staff members were injured in the process. We strongly believe that the violent attacks using water bottles and helmets calls for the tightening of the House rules to ensure safety of all MPs and staff.

The EFF MPs also left a trail of damage to parliamentary property, which includes the door of the ANC Chief Whips reception area. As the parliamentary staff was removing the disruptive MPs from the Chamber, we are reliable informed by eye-witness sources that a member of the EFF in the public gallery simultaneously threw a tear gas powder, which we believe was part of the well-orchestrated disruption. We are confident that the cameras of Parliament will be able to expose this individual, including identifying specific MPs responsible for the damage to property, so that they can face the full might of the law. Members of the parliamentary staff must be applauded for responding swiftly by pouring water on the substance to minimise its effect.

We condemn in the strongest terms the repulsive conduct of these EFF MPs and their supporters, whose intention was to collapse the most important sitting of the two Houses of Parliament, undermine the rights of South Africans, and to destroy the institution. The behaviour of these MPs warrants a criminal probe by the law enforcement agencies and a parliamentary investigation by the powers and privileges committee. A clear message must be sent to these individuals that peoples institutions cannot be attacked and be subjected to acts of criminality with impunity.

We equally condemn the opportunistic DA for partaking in the disruption through frivolous points of order in solidarity with its coalition partner. The DAs use of the painful and sad matter of the deaths of psychiatric patients in Gauteng for political posturing is shameful. The DA deliberately sought to use this tragedy as a tool for political grandstanding and disruption of Parliament.

If the DA was sincere about Parliament paying respects for the deceased, it would have followed the normal parliamentary procedure of alerting the presiding officers and all parties ahead of the sitting, as it is normally the case with matters of this nature. While the ANC in Parliament supports the remembrance of deceased by Parliament, the manner in which the DA sprung the matter was disingenuous, disappointing and disrespectful to the memory of the victims and the bereaved families.

The families of the deceased should not have been made to witness their deceased loved ones being placed at the centre of such deliberate disorderliness by the DA. If the DA respected the memory of the deceased as we do, and was sensitive to the feelings of their families, it would have treated the matter with deserved respect by consulted with all parties as dictated by procedure instead of using as a stepping stone for walk-out and disruption.

We have noted the announcement around the deployment of members of the SANDF to assist with law and order enforcement during the State of the Nation Address during the sitting of the House. We will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly for clarification on this matter.

Statement issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, 10 February 2017

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