New unit to tackle corrupt officials

first_img2 December 2010 The South African government has launched a special unit to tackle corruption in the country’s public service by investigating suspected corrupt officials, improving lines for reporting wrong-doing, and protecting whistleblowers and witnesses. Launching the unit in Johannesburg last week, Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi said the unit would investigate officials with undisclosed business interests as well as official who did outside work without permission, who solicited bribes, or who received grants or benefits unlawfully. Baloyi said the unit would operate in collaboration with the police Special Investigative Unit, the Auditor-General, the Public Service Commission, and the National Treasury. Provincial anti-corruption units will also work hand-in-hand with the new unit, which is divided into three divisions to handle investigations, legal and disciplinary matters, and strategic information management. It will conduct, facilitate and coordinate the investigation of high-profile cases and, where necessary, refer investigation outcomes to the relevant authorities for further action. It will also oversee disciplinary proceedings in high-profile cases. “Our stance is zero tolerance on corruption,” Baloyi said, adding that rooting out corruption would lead in turn to a more efficient public service. Last month, the Public Service Commission recommended the establishment of an anti-corruption unit in the public service because non-compliance and a lack of coordination was hampering the fight against corruption in government departments. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Pollinators and planting

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Beekeepers in Ohio again suffered substantial losses of colonies over the exceptionally long and cold winter of 2014-2015. Here in Wooster we lost more than half of our colonies, and beekeepers around the state are reporting levels of winter kill as high as 80%. While the frigid temperatures played a substantial contributing role, losses were undoubtedly made worse by all of the problems facing bees today: parasites, diseases, pesticides, breeding problems, and a general lack of summer and fall forage.Spring is the only reliably good season for bees in Ohio. Colonies that survived the winter and new colonies brought up from the Gulf Coast or California are in the process of harvesting nectar and pollen from spring-blooming trees and weeds — but little honey will be made. This spring bounty will be eaten by the bees themselves as they multiply and grow into large productive colonies that will be able to make a honey crop off of clovers, black locust, alfalfa and soybean in the coming months. Additionally, robust colonies are needed to pollinate the fruit trees soon and pumpkins, squash and cucumbers later in the summer.This spring build-up of honey bee colonies can be directly threatened by corn planting. Insecticide seed treatments used on corn seed produce an insecticidal dust when they are planted. Depending on conditions, this insecticidal dust can settle on the flowering trees and weeds that bees are visiting. Insecticides formulated as dusts are the absolute worst for honey bees because they do not immediately kill the bees visiting flowers. Rather than causing immediate death, the dust is packed up with the pollen and brought back to the colony where it is can poison young bees inside the colony.In spring of 2013 and 2014, we sampled pollen from six bee yards in Madison, Union and Clark Counties. During corn planting, all colonies were bringing back pollen containing corn seed treatment insecticides. While no spectacular bee-kills were observed in our colonies, we did observe a significant increase in the number of dead bees appearing in front of colonies during the week of corn planting in 2014. It is possible that different planting conditions could have led to no increase in bee death, as we say in 2013, or obvious piles of dead bees as were observed in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, corn planting in central Ohio coincided with the start of bloom for fruit trees and hawthorns — extremely attractive flowers for bees — which likely drew bees away from the riskier and somewhat less attractive dandelions, mustards and purple deadnettle growing in corn fields and on field margins. In some years, planting may happen before or after fruit tree bloom when bees are intensely interested in weeds growing in and near fields. This may have been the case in Ohio in 2012 when planting started early and a number of bee-kill incidents were reported.last_img read more

The Future of Cinema: Laser Projectors

first_imgLaser technology is changing the way films are projected – now in theaters, next in homes.Image from BarcoFor over six decades, xenon lamps have been the standard for use in theater and home projectors. An alternative solution using lasers may make the prevalent technology a thing of the past. The products known as Laser Illuminated Projectors (LIPs) are already available for commercial use.There are two types of LIPs, differentiated by brightness levels: High Brightness RGB LIPs deliver more than 60,000 lumens of brightness and will be used in premium and large-screen theaters, and Blue Pumped Phosphor (BPP) LIPs generate about 6,000 lumens for usage in smaller theaters. Household names such as Sony, NEC, IMAX, and Casio are producing models now.Benefits of Laser ProjectorsOne of the main benefits of lasers over traditional xenon lamps is their high spatial brightness. Lasers have the unique property of emanating light from a highly parallel, or collimated, source while having minimal spread. Think of the laser pointer you use to tease your cat: the beam is concentrated to a pretty specific, single point as opposed to, say, an incandescent bulb where the light is more spread out. The technical term for this spread is called the étendue, in case you want to impress your friends at a cocktail party! In lasers, less spread is desirable since the beam will be more focused and thereby more efficient. In the 60,000-lumen models this results in brightness that’s two to three times higher than xenon lighting.Another significant feature of lasers is their extremely long lifetimes, lasting up to 100,000 hours in RGB LIPs and diminishing very little over this time. At full power, these lasers typically lose only 20% of their energy after 30,000 hours, which is considered end-of-life at that power. BPP projectors are down 25% in 10,000 hours.Lasers promise to last for at least five years and for up to ten years without a lamp change. Over this time period you’d have to change out a xenon lamp, which only lasts around 500 hours, 60 times.To accomplish such high performance over years of use, you might’ve guessed that lasers are also very energy efficient…and you’d be right. Lasers have what is known as high-conversion efficiency. Higher efficiency means less energy is spent as heat, which means lasers require less cooling as well.Types of Laser ProjectorsLet’s come back to the two types of projectors to understand a bit more on how they work. First, we have the RGB LIP that utilizes costlier red, green and blue lasers and produces significantly more lumens. Three colors, three lasers. Easy enough.The second system is the Blue Pumped Phosphor, which utilizes only blue lasers. The cost in particular of blue lasers has come down so much in recent years that it’s beginning to dominate the technology. Red and green can be generated from a second blue laser to complete the tristimulus RGB system. To do this, the blue laser passes through a rotating phosphor disc capable of generating the colors. The overall system is less bright, but it’s also cheaper, an expected tradeoff.There are also two types of designs for the higher-end systems. The first appears exactly as we’ve thought of projectors since their inception, with the light source inside the box, shielding the lasers and providing a safe and efficient architecture. The second design is a more involved fiber-coupled system that has the advantage of being modular and can be controlled from an external, remote source.Limitations of Laser ProjectorsIt all sounds great, but are there restrictions to the technology? While there are really no optical limits to how bright lasers can go, particularly if the étendue is low, there are thermal limits that restrict brightness, at least for now.Though the contrast ratio in laser projection conforms to and even supersedes the DCI spec, with new standards still being developed, the level of high dynamic range may change and laser technology would need to catch up in the technological leapfrogging game we all know so well. The content would also need to be mastered for that contrast range, which it currently isn’t. Do it improperly and you’ll get too much speckle, the term for an undesirable interference pattern. As always, we want nominal artifacts, especially when projecting to the far distances in a cinema.Currently laser projectors are waiting for the early adopters to embrace and implement the systems in their theaters. As with most technology, more widespread use will lead to descending costs over time, and it’ll be exciting to see extensive adoption in years to come.last_img read more

Three fined for stealing lotuses

first_imgA kangaroo court in western Assam’s Barpeta district made three people cough up ₹15,000 for stealing lotuses from a wetland.One of Assam’s prime wetlands, with 39 species of indigenous fish, the 91-hectare Kapla Beel has been a major source of income for the villages around it. The wetland is also known for its lotuses that the villagers protect.But the lotuses – as buds or in bloom – kept vanishing for a week before Durga Puja. The villagers formed a vigilante group and on October 4 caught three people from a neighbouring village under Sarthebari police station. The men were let go but on the condition they face a kangaroo court comprising elders of the two biggest villages adjoining the wetland. A couple of days ago, the court decided to penalise the three with a fine of ₹5,000 each for stealing the aquatic flowers. “We did not intervene as the trial did not involve any physical assault or violation of law. The three were flower traders and had been harvesting the lotuses without permission from the stakeholders,” a local police officer said.last_img read more