SA celebrates with Obama

first_imgMillions of people around the world will watch the historic inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama.Khanyi Magubane As the United States comes to a standstill on 20 January to witness the inauguration of its 44th president Barack Obama, South Africa has planned its own series of celebrations.Dubbed one of the most prolific moments in American history, the inauguration of Obama, America’s first black president, has grabbed the attention of the world.The swearing-in of Obama as the nation’s 44th president on the west steps of the Capitol, Washington DC, at noon (7pm South African time) is expected to draw between one to three million spectators.  South African ambassador to America Welile Nhlapo will represent the country at the celebrations.No foreign delegations were invited to the inauguration and countries were informed beforehand that only those on ambassadorial level will be invited.Not to be left out though, a glitzy, formal inauguration ball will held at South Africa’s Monte Casino on 20 January, where a live satellite transmission of the events will be screened.Tickets to the now sold-out event were going at R1 000 (US$100) each.Renowned South African film producer Anant Singh is also in the process of filming a documentary around the ascension of Obama to the top seat.Singh was in America on election day in November 2008 when Obama was announced as the winner of the elections and declared the president-elect.At the moment all that is left for Singh is to capture the final footage of the historic inauguration.Currently, talks are in place with various South African and American TV networks to air the documentary soon after the swearing-in.The documentary includes an interviews with Obama himself, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, who hosted Obama in South Africa when he visited Robben Island.  Television stations in South Africa will broadcast the event.Party revellers will also be out in full swing as nightclubs in South Africa also host “inauguration parties”.A Cape Town based nightclub Roots Club will be hosting an Obama party in Observatory, where revellers have been encouraged come dressed up in an American theme.In Johannesburg, club goers will also be making their way to Sinabar. The popular nightclub will start the evening’s proceedings with a live broadcast of the swearing in.President Motlanthe’s message to ObamaAlthough not attending the event, President Kgalema Motlanthe has issued a congratulatory message to Obama.He hailed the profound place in history the event will always hold. “Your election to this high office of the American people, carries with it hope for millions of your country men and women as much as it is for millions of people of particularly of the African descent both in the continent of Africa as well as those in the Diaspora”.Motlanthe reiterated that Obama’s victory is Africa’s victory. “Accordingly, Africa which today stands proud of your achievements, can only but look forward to a fruitful working relationship with you both at a bilateral and multilateral levels in our endeavour to create a better world for all who live in it.“We express the hope that poverty and under-development in Africa which remains a challenge for humanity will indeed continue to receive a greater attention of the focus of the new administration,” said Motlanthe.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at khanyim@mediaclubsouthafrica.com Related articlesObamamania sweeps Africa Yes, we can Obama: African for White House? Useful linksDemocrats abroad South Africa Department of Foreign AffairsDemocratic Partylast_img read more

Building a Small House in the White Mountains

first_imgCrash and recovery – Spring 2013I knew that building a house would be challenging, but our first significant issue arose while the lot was still just a pile of felled trees. Approximately one week before we expected to break ground and with no warning, our friend and builder called to let us know that he wasn’t comfortable working on our house build anymore. It was related to the budget and our desire to push energy efficiency goals towards the net zero house concept.It’s also possible he thought we would be too high-maintenance because we were getting so invested in the project from a building science perspective. There was an opportunity to discuss and work out the budget and house spec issues, but we made the decision that it was best to move on.We were pretty devastated by this development, but decided to push forward and seek other options. We solicited information from several well-known companies in the Northeast that specialize in high-performance building including an architectural firm, modular companies, and custom builders. After exploring options, taking into account our budget and builder availability, we narrowed down our choices to quotes from two contractors that had experience with energy-efficient building. The options and quotes from each company were similar. We made a decision and signed a contract in early July 2013. Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blogs chronicling the design and construction of a house owned by Brian Post and Kyra Salancy. RELATED ARTICLES Pretty Good, Not So Big Maine HouseThe Potwine Passivhaus in AmherstKicking the Tires on a Passivhaus ProjectThe Pretty Good HouseMartin’s Pretty Good House ManifestoGreen Building for Beginners Breaking Ground – Summer 2013We had spent the past year frequently visiting the lot and slowly clearing trees, so it was pretty shocking to see how much change can happen once a 24-ton excavator was on site. Within just a few days in mid-July 2013, we had a cleared building site and a rough driveway passable by car (see Images #5 and #6, below).This was exciting, but the start of major work was stressful to building novices like ourselves. The initial site work was more expensive than expected and the shallow soil had already started to impact some plans. We were hoping to bury the power lines from the pole at the road to the house, but that wasn’t going to be possible due to the amount of ledge.Work started in early August on foundation prep. I visited the site on a very rainy morning to see lots of activity; trucks of crushed stone were arriving with a small excavator buzzing back and forth to prep for the slab. The heavy rain that morning was actually helpful because it showed some of the water patterns on site; an extra load of crushed stone was brought in to slightly elevate and provide more drainage under the slab.Slab Prep 08-09-2013 from Brian Post.The next layers that needed to be installed before the slab could be poured were a layer of rigid foam insulation and a vapor barrier. Before that could happen, though, we had to get the plumber and electrician on site to do their sub-slab work. This was scheduled to happen in mid August. Planning and tree cuttingMy girlfriend (now wife), Kyra, and I started to think about building. She was living in Portland, Maine, at the time and was spending many weekends at the house I was renting in Jackson.At the time, I thought that energy-efficient building meant going with fiberglass-insulated 2×6 walls instead of 2×4 walls. The GBA community should take note of this, because those of us engrossed in building science talk need to remember the knowledge level of the general public.While we had no building experience, the concept of a small energy-efficient house was on our minds. Aside from being outdoorsy people who are concerned with environmental issues, I’m sure that the energy efficiency theme arose in part because of the drafty and cold house I was renting at the time.Our initial building discussions included everything from a temporary yurt to kit homes. I remember the breakthrough came when I typed something along the lines of “small energy efficient building in cold climates” into Google. I stumbled upon the GO Home Passive House from GO Logic. That was it — that was along the lines of what we wanted.This discovery led to research via books, online forums (including GBA), blogs, architect and builder websites, the Passive House movement, the “net zero” concept, house visits, and more.With our new knowledge and an idea of what we wanted to build, we connected with a friend and local builder. He had just completed a really nice house that incorporated continuous exterior insulation, solid construction, an HRV, a PV array, and more. We had rough plans, a budget, and were on schedule to break ground after the spring road weight limits were lifted (see Image #3, below). During the fall of 2012 and the winter that followed, we spent time up at the lot cutting down trees, burning brush, and marking the house footprint (see Image #4).Taking Down Trees – 11/09/2012 from Brian Post. ARTICLES BY BRIAN POST Pouring the Slab and Framing the WallsWindows, Housewrap, and Roofing UnderlaymentSiding and Interior Finish Work in New Hampshire Finishing Touches for a Pretty Good House in New Hampshire I hired a local company to survey the lot, design a septic plan, and apply for approval from the state. The first step involved getting a small excavator on the land to dig test pits. The initial pits confirmed that the soil is shallow (2 feet or less to ledge), but the operator found deeper soil (4 feet+) in a flatter area towards the back of the lot. The design and approval process stretched out over the summer of 2012, but the design was finally approved and I closed on the lot in early September (see Image #2, below). We’re the GCsThe arrangement was that we would act as general contractors, and that our main subcontractor would handle the slab, framing, sheathing, window installation, door installation, and insulation. In addition, he would provide advice on mechanical choices. We would be responsible for site work, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roof, siding, and all finish work.Some of the main house specs included:R-20 monolithic slabR-40+ double-stud wall insulated with dense-packed celluloseR-70+ cellulose in the atticAn air leakage rate of 0.60 ACH @ 50 Pascals or lessAn exhaust ventilation system using Panasonic bath fans and passive air inletsA ductless minisplit for heating/cooling. (We dropped the wood stove idea from our initial plans.)Nearly two months after we were expecting to break ground, we were back on track to have a house built in 2013. Brian Post is a photographer and website builder. He lives in Jackson, New Hampshire with his wife, Kyra Salancy, and a fluffy black dog. When not working on their house, Brian and Kyra enjoy climbing and skiing in the White Mountains. Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a multi-part blog series on the construction of Brian and Kyra’s home in New Hampshire. Here is a link to Part 2: Pouring the Slab and Framing the Walls. In late April of 2012, I signed a purchase agreement on a one-acre lot in the small town of Jackson, New Hampshire. Much of Jackson is bordered by the White Mountain National Forest. The lot is located in a quiet residential area next to Black Mountain Ski Area at an elevation of 1,400 feet. The lot has some drawbacks such as an abundance of rock and exposed ledge, but is relatively flat (for Jackson) and has great southern exposure.Like the rest of New England, Jackson experiences the classic four seasons, with cold and snowy winters often being the topic of discussion. For any weather geeks out there, the Mount Washington Observatory has a permanent weather station on the summit of its namesake mountain. This is located 10 miles northwest of the lot.One of the terms of the purchase agreement allowed me to apply for an approved septic system design from the state of New Hampshire before closing. Theoretically, this would mean that a standard septic system could be installed and the lot could be built on.last_img read more

Gujarat BJP leaders fight over location of AIIMS

first_imgThe Union government is yet to announce the setting up of a world-class All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home State Gujarat, but some State Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are already fighting over its location.Gujarat BJP leaders and legislators from Rajkot and Vadodara have been fighting over the venue of the facility, which is likely to be set up in the State. Recently, Gujarat State BJP president Jitu Vaghani said in Rajkot that the AIIMS would be set up in Rajkot to cater to the healthcare needs of the people of the Saurashtra region.Mr. Vaghani said this while campaigning for the recently held by-election for the Jasdan Assembly constituency in Rajkot district. Mr. Vaghani’s impromptu announcement caught even State Ministers off guard. Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister Nitin Patel feigned ignorance over an AIIMS in Rajkot.“I am not aware of any development regarding the AIIMS in Rajkot,” Mr. Patel reportedly said. Legislators meet CMSubsequently, a group of eight legislators from the Vadodara district called on Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in an attempt to persuade him to select Vadodara as the venue for AIIMS.“We want AIIMS in Vadodara as was promised earlier. Now, they cannot change the location and pick up Rajkot,” said the party’s veteran legislator Yogesh Patel, who led the delegation of legislators from central Gujarat to the Chief Minister.According to Mr. Patel, there are tribal pockets like Chhota Udepur, Narmada, Godhara and Dahod near Vadodara, so a world class medical institute can cater to them, too, besides Vadodara city. Another legislator who was part of the delegation said that the CM himself was not sure whether Rajkot was being picked as the location for the AIIMS, as was suggested by the State party chief.last_img read more