Ramaphosa in South Sudan for mediation

first_img5 March 2014 Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), is in South Sudan to start mediation efforts aimed at finding a lasting political solution to the conflict in the war-torn country in northeastern Africa. Ramaphosa, who is also the deputy chairperson of South Africa’s National Planning Commission, was named the country’s special envoy to South Sudan during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address last month. He will also visit some countries belonging to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, an organisation of six eastern African countries focused on drought control and development initiatives. The grouping comprises Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. He is expected to be back in South Africa by next week Thursday. Ramaphosa’s appointment to the post came at the request of President Salva Kiir Mayardit for assistance in bringing about peace and reconciliation in South Sudan. Since fighting broke out in December between the forces of President Kiir and former Deputy President Riek Machar, thousands of people are believed to have been killed and some 870 000 others have fled their homes – 145 000 of them to neighbouring countries and 75 000 to United Nations bases within the country. South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, South Africa has been actively supporting the African Union’s (AU’s) post-conflict reconstruction and development projects in Sudan, under the umbrella of an AU ministerial committee which South Africa currently chairs. To date, South Africa has trained more than 1 600 officials from the government of South Sudan in areas such as policing, diplomacy, public service, justice, education, mineral affairs and correctional services. Last year, South Africa and Sudan signed an agreement establishing bilateral relations between the two countries. They have also upgraded their diplomatic missions to ambassadorial level. Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

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Publisha Promotes Apptop Publishing

first_imgcurt hopkins Tags:#Publishing Services#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… UK company Publisha has created a platform for doing what people are already doing but with less labor and more standardization: publishing across platforms that include mobile. The platform is currently in beta. From one dashboard, a user can publish to a website (provided by Publisha), to iPhone/iPad and to Facebook, where the Publisha network is broadcast. The same act produces an RSS feed, is indexed on search engines and soon will publish to Twitter. CEO Ian Howlett focuses on the platform as a service that produces a “whole ecosystem” of publishing. “Unlike PDF readers, we’re not trying to replicate print magazines, but rather focus on offering a service to bloggers, writers and publishers who don’t want the constraints of a traditional magazine layout. Publisha allows even small teams to easily publish across multiple digital platforms.”There is also a focus on what the company’s marketing consultant Anna Sjöström calls “the heart of Publisha’s beta framework.“(It’s) a unique Facebook app that sits as an ‘articles’ tab within an existing Facebook page and enables publishing of full articles, interactive content, polls and takes advantage of inbuilt viral features.” The basic Publisha account does not require an initial outlay. But of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The company takes 20% of your ad space and 20% revenue of any ads you sell through your Publisha-published site. The basic site is 10 GB, the $50 Professional account is 20 and the $250 Enterprise allows you 30. With the Enterprise account, you do not farm out any ad space. The examples of Publisha users the company provides include Amarya, an organic health and beauty company, and Bodas USA, a bridal magazine. The trade-off seems to be expressiveness for convenience and standardization. Here’s the Amarya blog and here is the Facebook app for Bodas.Publisha is lead by CEO Howlett, formerly a software developer with Unisys and FT.com, and Chairman and angel investor Chris Mottes. Mottes is the co-founder and CEO of Deadline Games and CEO of Six Ravens Capital. All in all it seems like a reasonable offer for people and companies who do not want to spend capital and work-hours on maintaining an integrated social media presence. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

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When Green Poses an Appraisal Problem

first_imgAlthough the couple, Gail and Larry Berberich, had no trouble securing a loan to build their home two years ago, their quest to refinance was thwarted by the relative isolation of their home, which meant lack of sales comparables, and a lending climate in which banks that want to eventually sell portions of their mortgage portfolios on the secondary market require not only excellent borrower credit scores but compliance with stricter appraisal guidelines set last month by secondary-market company Freddie Mac.Appraisal concerns – many of them focused on appraisers’ knowledge of green construction, but also on a lack of comparables – also dog the commercial market, notes a story recently published by the Daily Journal of Commerce, in Portland, Oregon.But in home construction, at least, builders likely will do their utmost to find appraisal workarounds until green construction becomes more common. Mike Vilstrup, a builder and president of the Madison Area Builders Association, told the State Journal that he had no problem getting financing to construct two green-certified homes this year.“If you work with your lenders and everybody attacks it as a team, there are ways to make things work,” he said. In the same press release the National Association of Realtors reported a 2.4% uptick in existing-home sales for May, the group also repeated its concerns about appraisal methods that, according to NAR economist Lawrence Yun, “compare traditional homes with distressed and discounted sales.”That has been an issue, of course, for almost everyone in the building trade and real estate business since distressed and foreclosed properties began flooding the market more than a year ago. But appraisal problems, particularly in today’s risk-averse lending climate, are not always related to disparities between standard listings and homes with troubled financial histories.In some markets, a dearth of appraisers familiar with green construction – or perhaps even more critically, a scarcity of nearby listings with comparable green features – can frustrate prospective homebuyers and homeowners who wish to refinance.The comparables questionOne otherwise creditworthy couple in a rural section of Wisconsin’s Richland County found themselves unable to refinance because their home, built two years ago, has ICF walls and an outdoor wood-burning furnace – two features that are apparently unique in their area, according to a recent story in the Wisconsin State Journal. RELATED ARTICLES Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 1Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 2Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 3Green Building Appraisal and Financing IssuesGreen Home Appraisal WoesA Step Toward Fairer Green Home ValuationsGetting a Grip on Green-Home Appraisals and InsuranceQ&A: Bad Appraisal on a New Green HomeQ&A: Refinance and Appraisal of Net-Zero Homelast_img read more

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I-T dept officials raid house, offices of Gupta brothers

first_imgIncome Tax officials raided the offices in Saharanpur and Dehradun belonging to the South Africa-based industrialists Gupta brothers. Searches were also conducted at the Guptas’ ancestral house in Ranibazar where the brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, grew up and lived till they left the country to become industrial tycoons in South Africa and close allies of the country’s former President Jacob Zuma. Mr. Zuma’s reported dealings with the brothers had rocked South African politics, leading to his resignation as President in mid-February. The Gupta brothers, however, have consistently denied any wrongdoing. “There was suspicion that the brothers were trying to bring illegal money into the country through various means. We intend to investigate if there is some basis for the suspicion,” said a senior IT department official involved with the raid. “Raids were conducted at the old Ranibazar house in Saharanpur, as well as their houses in Dehradun. We are also looking for bank accounts associated with them and properties they own,” the official said.Premise of a temple where the Gupta brothers were in the process of building a grand structure worth several crores were also raided, said the official.last_img read more

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OBAMA VISIT: One-on-one meet precedes dinner

first_imgUS President Barack Obama greets Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s (right) dinner on Sunday.A day before the elaborate banquet by President Pratibha Patil, on the lawns of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a lavish dinner for US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle at his 7, Race Course residence. Attended by as many as 80 guests – they included India’s who’s who – the dinner was preceded by a 40-minute one-on-one meeting between Singh and Obama.They reportedly discussed key bilateral issues, including economic cooperation, outsourcing, terror and the Af-Pak situation. The exercise was aimed at ironing out differences before the restricted and delegation-level talks at the Hyderabad House here on Monday.The Obamas drove down to the Prime Minister’s residence from ITC Maurya where they are staying. They were welcomed by Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur. On their arrival, the Obamas were welcomed by a band of Indian Navy and 30 camelmounted BSF personnel playing bugles and trumpets. The tunes played included Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan Vaishnav jan to and all-time Bollywood hit O meri zohra jabeen, tujhe maloom nahin.Though earlier expected to be a ‘private dinner’ for a select group, the guest list at Sunday’s do included key personalities from the area of politics, business, sports and cinema.The high-powered group included Congress president Sonia Gandhi – she was dressed in a dark blue silk sari – finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P. Chidambaram, defence minister A.K. Antony, foreign minister S.M. Krishna, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, commerce minister Anand Sharma, HRD minister Kapil Sibal MoS in PMO Prithviraj Chauhan, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, Indian Envoy to US Meera Shankar, Jamia Milia University vice-chancellor Najeeb Jung and Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations.advertisementBJP leaders L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley were also present on the occasion. Business honchos gracing the event included Azim Premji, Ratan Tata, Swati Piramal and N.R. Narayanamurthy. Bollywood personalities Aamir Khan, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akthar added more glamour to the occasion. Chess wizard Viswanathan Anand and environment activist Sunita Narain were also among the guests.FINE DININGIt was Awadhi platter for the Obamas at the private dinner hosted by the PM. Following are some of the items that were served:SOUPS: Shorba & mulligatawnyMAIN COURSE: Fish, lamb with green chillies, kakori kabab, mughlai chicken, gobi, dal dampukht, rice pulao, variety of Indian breadsDESSERT: Kesar phirni, mava potilast_img read more

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Priyanka Chopra-starrer Mary Kom declared tax free in Maharashtra

first_imgThe biopic on Indian Olympic boxer Mary Kom starring Priyanka Chopra has been declared tax free in Maharashtra.The film has been produced by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. “It is wonderful news. We have a compelling story to tell of a strong, determined woman who has done the nation proud. It is our tribute to all the unsung sports people who give so much to see the Indian flag flying high. If this can act as a catalyst of hope for them, then its something we can all be proud of,” Priyanka, who is playing the five-time world champion in ‘Mary Kom’ said in a statement.”We are grateful to Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat and government of Maharashtra for lending their support to the film. This exemption right from release day will allow large segments of society to experience the spirit of magnificent Mary,” Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom18 Motion Pictures (producer) said.Priyanka Chopra in a still from Mary Kom.Bhansali’s spokesperson said the tax free status will encourage audience to recognise and support the spirit of the film.Based on the true story of Mary Kom, the biopic chronicles the journey of a woman boxer who gave up her sporting career when it was at its peak to embrace the joy of motherhood. After giving birth to two beautiful children, she made her comeback in the ring and went on to become both a stronger woman and a stronger boxer. The film directed by Omung Kumar is set to release on September 5.advertisementEarlier, various state governments including Maharashtra, Bihar, UP and others had granted tax exemption to Farhan Akhtar starrer ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, a biopic on legendary athlete Milkha Singh.last_img read more

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