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Suzelle’s DIY takes South Africa by storm

first_imgSuzelle has become something of a South African internet sensation through her DIY videos on Youtube. She has covered a range of topics, but her most popular video to date is showing people how to make a braai pie. She’s even been joined by Tim Noakes and together they showed the audience how to make a pizza out of cauliflower. Suzelle has given DIY videos her own quirky sense of humour, which has made them hugely popular. (Image: Supplied)• Women of excellence: Ferial Haffajee, champion of media freedom • South African foodies cooking up a storm• Women of excellence: Lynette Ntuli, icon of young business leadership• Comedian David Kibuuka joins The Daily Show as writer• Brilliant young minds at the CSIR Priya PitamberWearing either bright or pastel coloured dresses, cardigans, and styling her hair in what’s become her signature up-do, South African vlogger Suzelle DIY is enlightening the country, one DIY video at a time.Her outfits may not be what people would normally wear while doing their DIY round the home, but she says: “I always look my best even when I’m doing housework.”With a unique sense of humour and usually hilarious endings, Suzelle’s quirky and eccentric persona is endearing. Her website informs her fans that she always dreamed of having her own DIY show. “I wanted to use my creativity to help people and make new friends.”She gets her inspiration from magazines and doing research on the internet. And naturally her DIY hero is MacGyver, from the 1980s TV show of the same name.Her popular videosSuzelle’s most popular video to date is How to Make a Braai Pie, which has notched up more than 660 000 views to date. It’s no wonder; South Africans generally love to have a braai (barbeque).Another popular video, viewed more than 420 000 times, was released close to Valentine’s Day. It shows viewers how to win someone over.Her next most popular video featured Timothy Noakes, professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town and a supporter of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, as set out in his book The Real Meal Revolution.“Smile for the video, professor,” Suzelle instructs Noakes, before the camera zooms in on his face. They make a pizza out of cauliflower. Meeting him was a highlight of her DIY series, she says.Her other videos include teaching people how to drill a hole without making a mess, how to iron clothes without an iron and a tutorial on creating her signature up-style hairdo.The one person she would like to invite on to her channel is comedian Trever Noah. And the one video she has not done yet, but would love to do, is on camping. Suzelle says she loves to help people get inspired to fix things. (Image: Supplied) Working with her handsHer best DIY achievement, though, was turning a cupboard into what she describes as an “amazing craft station”. And her greatest tool is not something you would find in a tool box because it is her creativity. “Sometimes when you don’t have the tool, you need to get creative,” she explains.She will continue making videos because “I just love helping people get inspired to make and fix things,” she says. “It is so easy.”Audience receptionGenerally the reaction to her videos is positive, Suzelle says. They are also watched by South African expats abroad. “I love it when people from overseas comment that my videos make them homesick for South Africa,” she says.“You are my hero! Love all your videos… Well done,” Maxine Trollip wrote on Suzelle’s Facebook page.‎”You make me laugh like no other,” wrote Gina Orman. “If I ever am in need of a good laugh I go and watch one of your videos.”Roxanne Lisa Booysen also smiles when she watches Suzelle’s videos. “They educate me at the same time. The best one was the braai pie,” she wrote. Suzelle’s DIY videos cover a range of topics that can help her audience dabble in their creativity. (Image: Supplied) What Suzelle loves“I work at a guest house called Somerset Guest,” says Suzelle of her other job, and in her downtime she likes to have coffee with her onscreen colleague, Marianne. She naturally loves to watch the TV show Braai Master, or anything on the Home Channel. Her favourite movies are both as quirky as she is: Legally Blonde and Notting Hill.And she is ever-ready for a DIY project because she keeps duct tape, lipstick and a small screwdriver in the shape of a star in her handbag.Besides having Noah on her show, if she could meet anyone famous, Suzelle says she would love to have Oscar-winning South African actress Charlize Theron over for coffee or a braai.And her favourite food is– you guessed it – a braai pie filled with spinach and feta.“If at first you don’t succeed, just do it,” is her favourite quote. And she seems to live by it because she gets so much done, and she manages it all with panache, without a breaking a sweat and looking stylish, every step of the way.last_img read more

EPA: More Data Needed to Ensure Spray Foam Safety

first_imgA friend of mine used to be a long-haul truck driver. At one point he even became a trainer working with new drivers.Over dinner recently, I asked what was one key lesson that he would want to impart to any new driver. While he was thinking about it, his wife lit up and offered this advice (which I’m sure is not from the company manual): make sure your seatbelt is removed before you begin a hot swap.In trucking, a hot swap occurs in a truck being driven by a team of two drivers when they are in a real hurry to make a delivery. When one is ready to take a break and turn the wheel over, rather than taking the time to stop, they may decide to trade places while the vehicle is moving down the highway. Hot swapping green building techniquesWhile I’m sure that experienced drivers can “hot swap” quite, um, professionally, it is an inherently unsafe practice. This is underscored by the fact that you have to remove your seatbelt, in a speeding tractor-trailer, before you can even begin!When I heard this, it felt to me a lot like a situation we face with some regularity in green building. We are racing to make our buildings safer, healthier for occupants, less-polluting, and lower carbon. But we are behind in that race. For example, we have been paying serious attention to the health effects of building materials on indoor air quality for only about 20 years. We have been inventing new chemicals that affect our indoor air quality for well over 100 years.Unfortunately for the builder, homeowner, or renter who simply wants some reliable advice on what to worry about from an environmental perspective, and what not to worry about, things sometimes change or crop up unexpectedly. And we’re not usually completely ready with a seamless hot swap. Remember when compact fluorescent bulbs first came out? Remember the first low-flow toilets? Best forget them. Why the fuss now?As Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, put it, “There has been an increase in recent years in promoting the use of foams and sealants by do-it-yourself energy-conscious homeowners, and many people may now be unknowingly exposed to risks from these chemicals.” You can add to that a growing number of complaints about adverse health effects from homeowners and occupants of office buildings where SPF has been applied during energy retrofits. EPA’s SPF action plan for MDI is being developed within its Design for the Environment (DfE) program under jurisdiction from the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires U.S. chemical manufacturers, importers, processors, and distributors to report to EPA any information suggesting that one of their chemicals “presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.”While the reported data is technically public information, penetrating it is very difficult, in some measure because manufacturers often claim confidentiality for proprietary components in their chemical formulations. But the cumulative evidence to date has moved EPA to take real action on this issue, mainly to gather reports of adverse health effects from manufacturers, and to consider initial rulemaking for both consumer-applied and professionally applied SPF products.The action plan leaves open questions about how far EPA will go to clamp down on these products, but it’s safe to think of this as a shot across the bow from EPA for the SPF industry. We don’t know much about SPF offgassingIn addition to the presence of MDI in the product, the chemical reaction and curing of SPF can produce other chemicals of concern: excess isocyanates, aldehydes, amine catalysts, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We don’t know much about the nature and quantities of offgassing of these substances, the curing rates of SPF, or how health risks can change with improper environmental conditions or mixing ratios during the SPF process.To that end, there is a new ASTM standard under development. John Sebrowski, a senior associate scientist with Bayer MaterialScience and chair of the task group working on this ASTM standard, is helping develop a standard practice to establish re-occupancy times after onsite SPF application. “We are currently getting ready to conduct research using micro-scale chambers and thermal desorption techniques to measure emissions,” he said. The issue of the day? SPF safetyThe issue of the day is spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation products. Last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new action plan for a key family of chemicals used in SPF. Isocyanates, such as MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), are chemicals that react with polyols to form polyurethane. They can also cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, asthma, and chemical sensitization when absorbed through the skin or inhaled.Polyurethane is in a lot of stuff, from foam mattresses to bowling balls. When it is fully reacted or “cured,” it is stable and its chemistry is not a significant concern. Some products, however, such as adhesives, coatings, and spray foam, react while being applied by builders or homeowners doing insulation retrofits, and continue to react for some hours afterwards, and may contain “uncured” isocyanates to which people may be exposed.This is not news: worker protection protocols and quality assurance programs for SPF installation were developed by the SPF industry decades ago.center_img Safe re-entry timesWhen asked what relationship the current ASTM draft standard and research might have to the existing protocol offered by Bayer MaterialScience (which recommends re-occupancy times of 12 hours and 24 hours for workers and occupants, respectively), Sebrowski responded that the protocol would be used as a starting point, but “we are also investigating other approaches to measuring the emissions.”According to EPA, safe re-entry times put forward by manufacturers vary between 8–24 hours for one-component SPF and 23–72 hours for two-component SPF. But more research and standardized testing is clearly needed. EPA is not working alone on this issue; several other federal agencies — including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission — are part of the team. Each is concerned about protecting workers or consumers from health effects from the increasingly prevalent site-applied SPF. Should we stop using SPF?“I think you have to be careful when you discuss the toxicity of spray foam,” says David Price, environmental scientist in the indoor environment division of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “I have not seen any information at this point that there is any hazard to occupants.” While Price supports EPA’s decision to gather data on possible post-occupancy issues with SPF, he doesn’t want the public to “find the accused guilty before you hear the case.”Price has seen some of the anecdotal evidence as well as some of the scientific findings, and says that no cause-effect relationship has yet been found between SPF installation and post-occupancy illnesses. “It’s appropriate for EPA to look at this stuff; that’s what we do,” Price said. “But I’m very sensitive about tagging a product as ‘of concern’ or ‘may be toxic’” before the data has been gathered and reviewed. Environmental Building News contacted several builders and foam industry professionals, and found that most were unwilling to be quoted on an issue they deemed sensitive and still-unfolding. One leading green remodeler offered this perspective: “I have stopped using SPF in any of my projects at this point. I simply can’t and won’t jeopardize my clients’ health and the reputation of my company by using building materials with the emissions profile of SPF.”Since this news came out, comments on message boards that I have seen have tended toward defense of SPF and annoyance (that’s putting it politely) at EPA. The undercurrent seems to be: Is the whole industry going to get stained because of some untrained DIYers? Let’s hope that the general public doesn’t jump to conclusions too rapidly — that EPA gathers its data and that its process works. And let’s be real: not all SPF insulations jobs are perfect — some have even ended tragically. Recommendations for continued useSPF has unique advantages that can be difficult to replace. If you decide to continue using it while EPA continues its work, here are some recommendations.Make sure that your SPF contractor installs SPF correctly, employing quality control/assurance protocols such as the following the Spray Foam Quality Control – Canadian Installation Requirements, or the ABAA Quality Assurance program.Follow current EPA recommendations on a safe approach to installation, from the publication Quick Safety Tips for SPF Users.If you are a homeowner or building manager or employee in a building in which SPF will be installed, follow EPA’s Steps to Control Exposure.Also, stay tuned; the SPF industry is working on a new class of SPFs — hybrid non-isocyanate polyurethanes (HPINUs) — that may pose much less serious occupant and worker health issues than our current slate of SPF building products.What do you think about the SPF issue? Do you use it, or not? Why? Let us know below.Tristan Roberts is Editorial Director at BuildingGreen, Inc., in Brattleboro, Vermont, which publishes information on green building solutions.Note: Peter Yost, residential program manager at BuildingGreen, and Paula Melton, associate editor, contributed reporting to this column.last_img read more

Construction Salaries On the Rise

first_imgAverage annual salaries for skilled construction workers were up in the three-year period between 2015 and 2018, with at least one job category showing a gain of 20%, a survey from the National Center for Construction Education and Research found. Salary information in 32 job categories was submitted by 132 organizations that represent 353,503 U.S. employees, NCCER said. For an industry that is facing an uphill battle in attracting young people into its ranks, the news of rising wages comes at a good time. The survey doesn’t directly address how wages have changed for residential construction workers because it’s focused on companies that do commercial and industrial work. Many job types in that part of the industry have no direct comparison in residential work. For example, there are no instrument fitters, industrial coating mechanics, or tower crane operators working on houses.RELATED ARTICLESTackling the Skilled Labor ShortageSolar Installer Will Train Its Own ElectriciansConstruction Training Gets a Boost from Home DepotConstruction Jobs Continue to Go Unfilled But the survey included several job categories that are typical on residential job sites. Here’s how they changed between 2015 and 2018: Plumbers: A 15% gain to an average of $59,627 in 2018. Carpenters: Up by 5.9% to $56,877. Electricians: Up by 5.8% to $61,139. HVAC specialists: A 20% gain, to $62,472. Masons: A 3.5% increase, to $56,784. Insulation mechanics: Up a scant 0.6% to $52,624. The survey didn’t gather information on concrete workers, excavators, or roofers. Reported averages did not include overtime pay or bonuses. Program supervisors and project managers are the highest paid employees, earning an average of $88,355 and $92,523 respectively. NCCER didn’t attempt to compare pay averages between residential, commercial and industrial workers, so the reported trends really amount to a snapshot of general conditions in the industry. In all, 19 of the 32 occupations earned an average of $60,000 or more per year. That may help the industry convince more younger people that a four-year college degree isn’t a prerequisite for a successful career. Labor shortages are a frustrating problem for the industry. A survey conducted by Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk found that 76% of respondents planned to hire additional or replacement hourly craft workers this year, but 80% are having a hard time filling openings. Only 10% of firms said they were having no troubles in finding people to hire. Carpenters, concrete workers, masons, drywall installers, roofers, plumbers, and electricians all were reported in short supply with more than 60% of all firms reporting that filling those jobs was more difficult this year than last. More than 60% of the respondents said they’d increased pay or benefits for hourly craft workers in the last year in order to attract more candidates.last_img read more

Making a Short Film With Little to No Crew: Can It Be Done?

first_imgFilmmaking is a collaborative process, but what happens when you can’t collaborate? Is it still worth the effort?Top image via Kotcheff & LederWhy do we want to tell stories? The idea of entertaining through visual imagery has been around since the dawn of humankind. Some of us take to the written word, others need to express through images, be they still or moving. One of the more common (maybe even easiest) methods to bring a visual story to life is with a short film. Short being the key word. Vimeo and YouTube are inundated with short films each month, and a good majority of them tell a superb story given their short length.Short films can often be a tiresome and thankless process. Grasping at whatever freebies you can attain, working at all hours for little or no pay, the list goes on. Filmmaking, of course, is a collaborative process, but what happens when you can’t collaborate? Perhaps it’s because of the location you live in. You may live in a rural town where there’s no other aspiring filmmakers or people interested in helping you. Or maybe you just don’t have the funds to hire people.Shooting a short film for free when you’re younger is a lot easier than when you work with film or media. When you work in media, the people around you have their jobs because they’re good at what they do. You can’t expect them to give up their weekends for a cheap sandwich and a few cans of beer at the end of the shoot.Image via CinemaWomynIf you want to make a short film, but for whatever reason can’t seem to get a crew assembled, what other options can you exhaust? What about making one by yourself? Or at least with a minimal crew of three to four people?It sounds like a ridiculous notion, but two women are currently in the process of making a feature (and history) solely by themselves, and they are doing an excellent job at it. Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder are two filmmakers who successfully raised $27,561 on Kickstarter to fund their film, The Planters. Not just a short film, but a feature film!To the best of our knowledge (and after much Googling), what we are doing here has never been done before. Two women, making a feature film, doing EVERYTHING (Writing, Directing, Cinematography, Sound, Costumes, Make-up, Props, Coffee, etc.have). We have heard of a few examples (very few) of a two-person crew making a narrative film. But none of those two primary crew members were ALSO starring in the film. The two of us are literally the only people who touch the equipment. And to the chagrin of one of our other actors, we won’t let him carry or help with anything on set. The purpose of this film is to make it ENTIRELY with our four hands and we won’t stop until this film has been seen by YOU!Video Playerhttps://pbblogassets.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2016/08/video-633179-h264_high.mp400:0000:0005:01Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.I imagine there is a somewhat social stigma behind the idea of making a film without a crew. It does on the exterior seem like a frivolous exertion. However, when push comes to shove, it is on you to make your film happen.I have been working on a short film with a minimal cast and crew, and while it has so far been a strenuous path, there are a few pointers I can offer those who are going to take the same journey. One of the most important aspects which will make or break this undertaking: Was your film written to cater specifically to a minimal crew, or are you trying to make a movie which realistically should be done by more than two people? A car chase between a thief and police officer in a city street? It’s not going to happen. A foot chase between a thief and a police officer in a forest? Very possible to achieve. Create to your limit.StoryImage via ShutterstockIt’s incredibly hard to go into a challenging story with a limited crew. It’s easier to build the story from scratch and tailor to the needs of a small team. Fewer locations, fewer actors, less action, more character focused and with an emotion driven story. This is the premise for The Planters.The Planters is a dark comedy set in a small, desert town. It’s a lonely place for lonely people like Martha Plant, a reclusive young woman, who spends her days telemarketing and “planting.” As a “planter,” Martha buries stolen items in the desert and receives donations in return from whoever digs them up — the “receiver.” Martha finds her world turned upside down when another woman, Sadie Mayflower, literally runs into her while on one of her “planting” excursions. When she discovers that Sadie is homeless, Martha takes her in. She quickly learns that Sadie has multiple personalities, and the ever solitary Martha begins to find three friends in one.If this were the blurb for a review or the information on a cinema screening, you (as an audience member) would expect that the film isn’t going to be populated with hundreds of cast members on a bustling city street. It’s a great premise for a film that has a limited team as the story itself is limited in cast and locations.Writing for a singular location is an essential element of making a short with a limited crew. Take a look at the short film below, Nothing about Nothing by Daniel Levi. Within the eight-minute duration of the short, we are only introduced to two characters. We don’t know who they are, nor their history, there is only handful of dialogue, and it all takes place in a single location.Without the information that’s usually provided by a feature, you still become connected to the characters and the situation.  You come to wonder what the outcome of the situation will be. The credits do however list around twenty people in total made the film. With careful planning and logistical thinking, this could be done by a small cast and crew. It might not be as good, but you don’t know unless you try. These short films that take place in a singular location while focusing on the outcome of a situation are a great opportunity for a minimal crew.Realistic ExpectationsWhen you have finished writing the short, and you move toward the planning of the shoot, plan for practical and achievable results. Of course, try to push the boundaries — that’s what art is about. However, you need to accept early on that you’re not going to be able to do a lot of the cool stuff you would be able to do with a twelve-person crew, like a ten-foot tracking shot through the kitchen into the hallway. Ok, you might have the equipment, but not the manpower. If you’re acting as a director/cinematographer, are you also going to be able to delegate time to key grip duties?Some of the best scenes in films and televisions have come from very basic shots, but the acting has captivated the audience enough that you don’t need a constant track or multiple angles. The scene below from Breaking Bad is arguably one of the most memorable scenes of the series — and it consists of only six stationary handheld shots.SoundIn the feature film The Planters, Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder have opted for capturing sound with two Sennheiser 416 shotgun mics and lavalier microphones, which is fed into a SoundDevice 633 recorder. It’s a light setup, perfect for a small crew. However, what about the idea of removing an on-set sound altogether? This needs to be a decision that is made before you start writing your short. You won’t get very far if you have two characters having a conversation and you don’t have a microphone.My own short film follows the last man on earth and his last few days before he dies, which leaves the human race all but extinct. On the fifth redraft, I decided to remove any dialogue and have the character remain speechless until one of the final scenes. I only have to worry about capturing audio for one day. This has helped the production process massively.With the majority of films, most character movement, prop sounds, and sounds of the location are recreated in post-production by a foley artist. By removing the on-set sound recordist, it allowed us to work through problems that would have otherwise plagued the production.The lead actor and I often joke about how much we wouldn’t have been able to complete if we had a sound recordist. Plane overhead? No problem. Keep on going. Construction site near? Yeah, we can keep recording. Now, of course, this is only going to work if your lead character doesn’t speak.Inspiration for a short film with little to no dialogue:Voice OverThere are some elements to a film which just have to be conveyed to the audience through voice. If you have no sound recordist, narration would be the next best thing.Narration is quite widely looked down upon. Some film purists say that filmmakers use narration as an escape because they couldn’t figure out how to incorporate that information into the script. I like narration, and I very much stand by what Martin Sheen says in the video below.You know, it’s often said that narration in film does not work. You know you talk to a studio head, and they say ‘no, no, you can’t narrate it [the film].’ Three of the best films ever made are narrated [he laughs] and people don’t even think about it… Apocalypse Now is narrated, Platoon is narrated, Citizen Kane is narrated.Inspiration for a narrated short film:LocationThe core concept of making a short with a minimal crew is to isolate things that require extra hands and to remove those things. One obstacle would be far-away locations or locations out of your reach, such as an open floor office in a police station. That wouldn’t be an easy location to recreate. Look to keep your film set in natural areas such as the forest, meadows, the beach, the desert. Being away from convoluted areas will ease your mindset and production.Inspiration for a short film set in the wilderness:Visual PoetryA poet needs nothing more than inspiration and a means to write down their thoughts. You too can make poetry as a filmmaker with a camera. Visual poetry can capture and evoke emotions without the need of having a narrative; it’s expressive filmmaking. Terrence Malick, love him or hate him (I love him), has made a career of visual poetry. Although admittedly, his films do somewhat contain a narrative. Filmmaker Salomon Ligthelm is a master of this genre in short form. His Vimeo is a treasure trove of inspiration. While these videos do not provide a story or character that you can relate to, his shorts make the audience feel something — and isn’t that the point of filmmaking? The advice listed above focuses primarily on the undertakings required in pre-production. Here are some quick tips to take into account when making a film with limited people.If you’re also acting in the short or are unable to be behind the camera after you’ve hit record, make sure you use a wide-angle lens with a wide aperture to keep the focus area as large as possible.A monitor or flip screen is a must. You do not want to return to the camera to see that someone was out of focus, or it wasn’t framed correctly after someone moved.Keep your scenes within the day time.Limit your kit to three bags/cases.Keep lighting simple. Stick to one light or just natural light. Here’s a handy guide from PremiumBeat for lighting without a budget.Have fun with this. Don’t take it too seriously.Do you have any other tips for making a film by yourself? Let us know the in the comments below.last_img read more

10 months agoTottenham chairman Levy won’t consider Man Utd’s planned Pochettino offer

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Tottenham chairman Levy won’t consider Man Utd’s planned Pochettino offerby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveTottenham chairman Daniel Levy won’t consider Manchester United’s planned offer for Mauricio Pochettino.The Times says Ed Woodward has set his sights on the Spurs boss and is prepared to stump up £40million in compensation to take the Argentinian and his backroom staff to Old Trafford.But Levy has no intention in letting his manager leave so cheaply – and will demand far more than that before allowing United to strike a deal.United’s plan is to pay off the outstanding contract value of the five-year deal Pochettino signed with Spurs earlier this year.That cost would be around £34m, with a further £6m needed to release the remainder of his coaching staff from their agreements.But there is no actual release clause in Pochettino’s contract – and Levy believes that makes it impossible for Woodward and the Old Trafford board to just buy him out. last_img read more

Study Valve hole set off refinery blast fire in Wisconsin

first_imgSUPERIOR, Wis. — A hole in a valve was cited as the source of an explosion at a Husky Energy refinery in northwestern Wisconsin last spring that injured 36 people and required the evacuation of a large part of the city of Superior.The latest findings of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board were shared Wednesday at a town hall meeting in Superior.According to the update , erosion created a hole in the slide valve, allowing air to mix with hydrocarbons. The resulting blast sent debris hurtling into an asphalt storage tank. The puncture spilled about 15,000 gallons (12,490 imperial gallons) of hot asphalt, which later ignited.A spokesman for Husky Energy says the Canada-based company will continue working with the board to understand the cause of the explosion.___Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.comThe Associated Presslast_img read more

Genius Kids celebrate annual concert

first_imgOn the morning of March 10, 2019, Genius Kids, integrated daycare and pre-school celebrated their 11th annual concert. To celebrate and cherish the significant essence of many moods and emotions in an individual’s life, and how they contribute in making the lives of an individual more meaningful, 400 kids aged between 2 – 10 years performed on the theme ‘Emotions of Life’ at the event. Kids with colourful attires and pretty smiles offered magical performances on songs like ‘Halud Gandar Phool’, ‘Chil Chil Chillake’, ‘Bum Bum Bole’, ‘Amra Natun Jouboner Dut’, ‘Mohe Rang Do Laa’, to name a few.Chandrima Bhattacharyya, Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal along with Riddhi Bandyopadhyay, noted singer, and Avirup Sengupta, ace choreographer graced the occasion. Speaking at the occasion, Bhattacharyya said, “It’s our duty to come together to shape a better world. And as children are our future, we must take proper care of their mental health too. Therefore, I believe extra curriculum activities are equally important in order to nourish their proper mental and physical growth.” Apart from the performances, the school also hosted a unique ‘Passing out Convocation’ for the little kids, in which tiny tots received their first ever certificates and gold medals. Around 78 Kids, who have successfully made their entry into reputed high schools across Kolkata were awarded at the event. Putting his views forward, Vikash Kumar Singh, Founder Director, Genius Kids said, “I am honoured to be a part of the Genius Kids family, and it has been my privilege to work towards nurturing talents among the tiny tots for last 11 years, and I wish all of them a great future and success in life.” Like every year, even this time the attempt was to join hands with the like-minded people and different organisations, to promote various facets in developing human values and ethics towards social commitment; besides changing the world for the less fortunate. At the event, the fund was handed over to few charitable organisations for various activities in women and child development.last_img read more

Senators urge Trump admin to delay decision on India’s GSP review

first_imgWashington: Two top American Senators have urged the Trump administration to delay until the end of the general elections its decision to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preference due to a lack of compliance.The Generalized System of Preference (GSP) is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries. The US Congress in March last year voted to renew the GSP through 2020. In a letter to US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Senators John Cornyn from the Republican party and Mark warner from the Democratic party argued that India-US relationship was too important to rush such an important decision in the middle of an election cycle. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”As you know, India’s elections will conclude on May 23, 2019. We believe that the election season may serve as a hindrance for our Indian counterparts in negotiating and concluding a deal on difficult political issues,” the two Senators wrote in the letter to Lighthizer on Friday. It was in April last year that the USTR announced that it planned to review the GSP eligibility of a number of countries, including India. The USTR’s announcement specifically cited “concerns related to its compliance with GSP market access criterion,” based on petitions filed from the US medical device and dairy industries. “If another round of negotiations during the election season does not resolve the outstanding issues, we would ask you to consider delaying the issuance of a Presidential proclamation to withdraw India’s GSP benefits by at least 30 days, beyond the 60-day calendar, in order to move the negotiations beyond India’s elections,” the Senators said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostAllowing for continued negotiations beyond the elections would underscore the importance of this bilateral relationship and provide a real opportunity to resolve these market access issues, potentially improving the overall US-India relationship for years to come, said Cornyn and Warner, who are co-chairs of the powerful Senate India Caucus. “We understand that the Trump administration may issue a proclamation withdrawing India’s GSP benefits 60 days or later from the congressional notification date,” the two Senators wrote. The letter comes in the middle of an intense Indian election cycle, during which the ruling government cannot take a major policy decision, which holds officials from making substantial progress on the crucial negotiations between India and the United States. “As Co-Chairs of the United States Senate’s India Caucus, we fully appreciate and support your efforts to address a host of market access issues facing American businesses in India. “Congressional support for the GSP programme was made clear last year when the US Senate and US House of Representatives reauthorised the programme, in nearly unanimous fashion, for three years,” they said. On March 4, 2019, Congress was notified of USTR’s intention to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under GSP due to a lack of compliance. “While we agree that there are a number of market access issues that can and should be addressed, we do remain concerned that the withdrawal of duty concessions will make Indian exports of eligible products to the United States costlier, as the importer of those products will have to pay a ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) duty which is higher than the rate under GSP,” the Senators said.last_img read more

Rahul good leader, will reach consensus on PM candidate after tallying results: Chandrababu

first_imgHaldia (WB): TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu has termed Rahul Gandhi a “good leader who has concerns for the nation” and asserted that unlike 1996, non-BJP parties won’t commit the mistake of keeping the Congress out if such an alliance forms a government at the Centre.In an interview to PTI on the sidelines of a poll meeting in East Midnapore district’s Haldia in support of TMC candidates, he claimed the BJP is on its way out, and batted for a coalition government saying, “It’s better to have checks and balances.” On the contentious issue of prime ministerial candidate of a non-BJP front, Naidu, who has been rallying regional parties to form such a coalition, said the constituents “will reach a consensus after tallying the number of seats each party gets”. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghHe claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become desperate on realising that he is losing the Lok Sabha elections. “There is anti-incumbency. PM Modi tried his best, but he has no achievement. Because of that, he started talking about Pulwama (terror attack) and (Balakot) air strikes. In every meeting he is accusing and abusing opposition leaders,” the incumbent chief minister of Andhra Pradesh alleged. “If you go through Modi’s campaign you will see he is getting weaker and more desperate. Earlier also he was weak but he managed the media. He threatened all politicians so that no one raises their voice,” Naidu claimed. On whether a coalition of regional parties will include the Congress in government formation or keep it out if such an opportunity arises, he said, “You cannot have such restrictions. You need the magic figure (272 seats) to form the government. Restrictions will ultimately break the unity.” Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad”All of us will sit together and reach a consensus to build the future of this country,” Naidu said. He lauded the Congress president by terming him a good leader, but evaded a direct reply to the question whether Rahul Gandhi’s name could be proposed as prime ministerial candidate, saying if he names someone others might get hurt which will break the opposition unity. “He (Rahul Gandhi) is a good leader. He has concerns for the nation, unlike Narendra Modi, who is hollow and never listens to anybody. Modi tries to rule by threatening others,” the TDP supremo said. Naidu’s comments comes just days after his meeting with Gandhi to discuss the post-poll scenario. The Telugu Desam Party president, who was the convener of the United Front government from 1996-1998, said time the experiment failed because the Congress was kept out of the government.last_img read more

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