Cabinet meets to map out programme of action

first_img11 June 2014The first lekgotla (special meeting) of South Africa’s newly appointed Cabinet got under way in Pretoria on Tuesday, bringing together ministers, provincial premiers and other senior officials to map out the government’s programme of action for the year.The three-day meeting is being chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in the absence of President Jacob Zuma, who was ordered by his doctors to take a few days’ rest following his hospitalisation for medical check-ups over the weekend.Zuma will outline the new administration’s programme for the year in his State of the Nation address to Parliament on Tuesday, 17 June.Speaking to reporters shortly before the start of Tuesday’s meeting, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said the main items on the agenda were the National Development Plan (NDP), the government’s medium-term strategic framework, and the ongoing mining strike on South Africa’s platinum belt.Radebe said the Cabinet ministers would look to the NDP as well as the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) election manifesto when drawing up the government’s programme of action.He added that the Cabinet would pay special attention to the issues of local government service delivery, unemployment, poverty and inequality“Our president is deeply concerned about the protests that have been happening around the country. We are going to make sure that we go into those areas with concrete responses.”Radebe said the long-running strike in South Africa’s platinum mining sector had had a debilitating effect on the economy.Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) downed tools on 23 January, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500. So far, the industry and employees have lost billions of rands in earnings and forfeited wages.Two weeks ago, the government to set up a special task team to facilitate negotiations between the unions and mining companies. On Monday, however, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi pulled the team out of the negotiations, putting the onus on the companies and unions to find common ground.Radebe said the impact of the strike showed that the mining sector still played a major role in the country’s economy. “We need to ensure that we encourage the resolutions of the strike so that we can begin with the implementation of the NDP.”Regarding President Zuma’s health, Radebe said the Deputy President was in constant touch with Zuma.“The President is improving. The Deputy President has reported to us that he is resting to ensure that he is ready for the State of the Nation address next week.”Zuma’s office said he had met with all his new ministers and deputy ministers in May, to go over policy priorities and his expectations of them.Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

No major surprises today from the USDA

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Prior to the report grains were all 1-2 cents lower. The DOW was 80 lower, and crude oil was 30 cents lower. Following the report corn was unchanged, soybeans were up 1 cent, and wheat was unchanged.Corn exports were lowered 50 million bushels to 1.65 billion bushels. That is not a surprise. Corn used for ethanol was increased 25 million bushels to 5.225 billion bushels. An increase in ethanol had little traction ahead of the report. However, it is not unrealistic due to weekly grinds the past month continually above the weekly amount needed to reach the yearly goal.Soybean crush was reduced 10 million bushels to 1.88 billion bushels. That should not be a surprise as domestic crush margins have been below 50 cents in recent weeks. It compares to crush margins last year reaching over $2 a bushel a year ago. Soybean ending stocks were up 10 million bushels. While some had expected soybean exports to be reduced, reducing one component, the crush, is not a surprise.Corn production in Brazil was up 2.5 million tons from last month’s 81.5 million tons. Argentina corn production was increased 1.4 million tons to 27 million tons. Corn production in South America was expected to remain unchanged. These numbers are somewhat bearish for corn. Don’t be surprised to see US corn exports see additional changes lower in coming months.Many might suggest that the February USDA report is easily a yawner, paying little attention to its pending release and even less attention once it is published.  But after all, it is the USDA. A surprise can appear at any time. During the month of February the US budget office provides acres estimates for 2016. In addition, USDA will have its yearly outlook conference later this month. Then next month on March 31 USDA will publish its annual planting intentions report for the upcoming growing season. This combination of acres estimates will provide lots of fodder for market discussions the next six weeks. Today’s report did not contain any production changes for the US. The trade had expected soybean production could be reduced in Brazil while increasing in Argentina. The soybean harvest is underway in Brazil. Argentina is not far behind.  Corn production in South America was expected to be nearly identical to that last month.Grains have been sideways to boring for the past month. Rallies have been short-lived, small in size, not meeting expectations for those still holding unsold bushels. Yesterday corn exited its tight trading range, trapped within just nine cents for 13 trading days. Talk about something ready to happen, just as a coiled snake waiting for its unsuspecting prey. In that time corn basis has been steady and in some cases even lower. Corn exports on Monday were just 17.3 million bushels, below the low of trade expectations. Meanwhile, soybean exports hit 43.1 million bushels, above the high of expectations. Soybean exports continued their trend of exceeding corn exports. US grain exports continue to disappoint as yearly totals slide further and further behind those of a year ago. The Monday reports continued the trend from last fall detailing that US grain exports are declining compared to a year ago. As US exports shrink, it has traders and producers expecting smaller exports and increasing ending stocks for either February or March.  Non-commercial traders are now long corn as they exited the short positions they held for many months. The flip from short to long was a process over many weeks. Last week it was noted that while the non-commercials traders were still short, the much smaller amount of shorts they held was a surprise. Some had suggested it could provide additional corn price volatility in coming weeks due to the reduced need for any potential short covering to take place. China’s markets are closed all week due for the Lunar New Year. US stocks have taken a beating so far in 2016 due in part to concerns that the economic slowdown in China could reach the US. Keep in mind that in times of uncertainty and especially if it extends for several days, the general mentality can be, “risk off, get me out.”  Or even simpler prices go lower. The term “risk off,” is not new. Don’t be surprised to hear it more and more this year.The market will now go back to focusing on South America weather and upcoming US acres projections for 2016. Farmer selling for old corn will likely not be large in coming weeks unless we see the March CBOT corn reach back above the $3.70-3.75 level. At mid-day today it is $3.62.last_img read more

Health sharing or insurance?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Risë LabigBy Risë Labig, marketing specialist for Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag NetLast year at this time, my husband and I were in the process of deciding whether to continue to participate in my company’s health care plan, or change to a “health-sharing” plan. Like the majority of Americans, premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed. Through no fault of our employer, I knew that based on us hitting milestone birthdays our premiums would rise. And rise they did, to the tune of over $1,100 per month, and that doesn’t include the deductible.I am employed at a small business (Ohio’s Country Journal/Ohio Ag Net), as many people are. Small businesses simply do not have the “buying power” of a large group. As a result, premiums and deductibles are high. As anyone who has tried to navigate through deciding which deductible to choose — higher deductible, lower premium versus lower premium, higher deductible — well, it’s not easy. If your family medical history includes pre-existing conditions that are treated often, you may want the lower deductible. If your family history has leaned toward few medical issues, you may lean towards choosing a higher deductible so your premium is a little lower. It’s about risk, and no one understands risk better than those of us in ag.Years ago, I had worked for one year in the life-health insurance division at an insurance company. I learned much in that year. It was with this knowledge under my belt that I felt I could research health-sharing and understand the differences from medical insurance.Please note that health-sharing and health insurance are NOT the same. This is very important to understand. I like this definition, from CHM on what health sharing is: Health cost sharing is a way to satisfy your healthcare costs and help others while upholding your Christian beliefs and sticking to your budget.We chose Christian Healthcare Ministries, which is the nation’s original health cost sharing ministry. It provides an affordable, accountable and faith-based framework to help fellow believers facing a health crisis. Likewise, brothers and sisters in Christ step in to help you in your time of need. Members’ pre-set monthly financial gifts to CHM are the funds used to share each other’s healthcare costs. The ministry shares 100% of eligible bills and overall has shared over $3.5 billion in members’ healthcare costs. CHM is also a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. CHM is an eligible option for individuals and families under the national healthcare law.I seriously began to consider health sharing when I was scheduled to take a sleep apnea test home study. (Yes, I was not a “silent sleeper” and was going to share a cabin with my sister. She said I should do something about it, sis, so grudgingly I did.)The hospital had called to confirm the home study sleep test, and I asked the cost for the test. It was about $762. Since I had not used my deductible, insurance would cover only $150 of it, which meant I would pay the balance of $612 out of pocket. It just irked me that even though I had insurance, paid a high monthly premium, and hadn’t used my deductible, I would still have to pay out-of-pocket. So, I decided to call back and ask what my cost would be if I did “self-pay”. She immediately said, “Oh — that’s an automatic 60% discount.” Yep. The wheels started turning.So, the research began. I understood fully that it would mean I would become “self-pay.” I wouldn’t have medical insurance. Could we consider this? Was it too risky? I evidently gravitate to risk since I married a farmer.Health sharing means that we are, in essence, sharing our medical bills with other people of a large group of similar beliefs. Christian health sharing has been around a long time. I reviewed what I considered the top three “safe” companies: Christian Healthcare Ministries, Samaritan Ministries, and Medi-Share. There are differences between all of them. I leaned toward CHM. They have been around the longest, have a great track record, and most importantly, I had local friends that had been using them for a few years and were quite satisfied.We ran an article about a year ago on Samaritan Ministries — you can read the article here.I know a few other farm families that have chosen Medi-Share. Please note that I believe ALL of these companies are very good. We go with what we know, so we decided to choose Christian Healthcare Ministries.Our monthly premium, for Scott and I, is $150 each, or $300 per month. This includes a $500 deductible (meaning I pay the first $500 out of pocket for each unique illness). We knew the real challenge would be when we had our first office visit, medical testing, etc. Incidentally, my boss kept asking how I liked health sharing — and I told him that I don’t know ‘yet’ since I hadn’t had to use it (and that is a good thing).Between Scott and I, we take just a few prescriptions. I made sure to check what prescription costs would be. I presumed they might increase, and this might be one of the “risks” I would take, yet I reasoned that a lower premium would offset a minor prescription increase. I challenge you all to take a look at what you are paying for prescriptions. I was shocked that I could actually get my same prescriptions for the same price and even LESS than what I was paying for WITH medical insurance. What? Yes. The website allowed me to review and compare. And I also found I could get them cheaper elsewhere in town, and I did. Another savings.Our first occasion to use the health sharing was my annual blood test. I take blood pressure medicine and have hypothyroidism, so I take meds for those two and the doctor wouldn’t renew any prescriptions without it. Tests were ordered at CompuNet, and typically I never saw a bill for these when I had medical insurance. No charge. Right?I told them I was “self-pay” when I signed in. They didn’t bat an eye. She said, okay, the price today for all the tests ordered is $742.01 (Gulp. I reasoned with myself that I was saving more than each month by my lower premiums) What surprised me was that she said: “and so, since you are self-pay, it is an automatic 50% discount.” Yes. And she continued to say that next time I have blood tests, I can order many of them myself. I was astounded. Instead of $353.42, I could pay online, self-pay for $45. I must admit, now I was feeling even better about my decision to do health sharing.It gets better. A week or so later, I received a postcard in the mail from my local hospital. They were sharing the exact same story. They were offering “patient self-directed testing at a reduced cost as an alternative for individuals that have insurance with a high deductible and for those who do not have insurance at all.” I encourage you to see if your local hospital offers the same. Share this with someone. It may save them money.So what does happen when I have something other than a simple office visit or blood test? Visit here to see the steps necessary to take when unplanned illnesses or emergencies arise.We chose the Gold level plus Brother’s Keepers plan. I will have unlimited financial assistance available to me for all eligible medical bills (bills must total over $500 per incident). The Brother’s Keeper is a safeguard against catastrophic or illness that can exceed $125,000 (Gold plan). I must submit all and any medical invoices, with proper coding, to CHM. I had experience with this at the insurance company, so I knew it was quite doable for me.Who might not want to consider health-sharing? If you have pre-existing conditions, please note that you will want to carefully read each company’s guidelines. Each company handles these uniquely, and must follow the law. Again, health sharing is not medical insurance. But it works, and has been around a long time.As a family, we use a lot of natural health alternatives. They work for us. Exercise is a huge benefit (we’re still fine-tuning that one). Personally, we believe we need to do as much as we can for our own self-care to avoid running to the doctor for every sniffle. Each family is unique, and may not be able to do this, so do your research.If you have more questions than what these company’s websites might provide, please know you are welcome to reach out to me at rlabig@ocj.com. I hope this article helps those of you who are interested in pursuing health sharing, and also encourages you to see if there are additional ways to lower your medical costs.last_img read more

BCCI selectors to give final a miss

first_imgDisconcerted by the treatment meted out to them by the Taj Hotel staff in Chandigarh, the five national selectors led by K Srikkanth have decided to give the India-Sri Lanka final in Mumbai a miss.Booked at the Taj to witness the high-voltage India-Pakistan clash live at the PCA Stadium on Wednesday, the five national selectors would have been expected to be a part of Team India’s celebration when they left Shahid Afridi’s team shattered.But contrary to initial plans, they were taken aback when they found that their booking at the hotel – supposed to have a tie-up with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) – had been cancelled and ICC officials had been given the rooms allocated to the selectors.Hurt by the BCCI’s refusal to look into the matter and provide them with accommodation, they immediately left for their respective homes.According to a Punjab Cricket Association official, the incident took place as there was a feud between BCCI and ICC over hotel bookings.Paid employees of the BCCI, the selectors are more often than not made to make their own arrangements when it comes to accommodations etc.But being refused accommodation even after booking their rooms well in advance seemed to be too much for them to take.As a result, the selectors have decided to stay away from the final of the ICC World Cup.While chairman of selectors Srikkanth refused to answer calls and reply to messages sent, a hurt Yashpal Sharma, representing North Zone, said that it was for Srikkanth to talk on the matter.advertisement”We are strictly barred from speaking to the media and it is for the chairman of selectors to speak on the issue. All I can say is that we are not going to Mumbai at the moment,” Sharma told MAIL TODAY over phone on Thursday.last_img read more

First day, first blow! Team India fined for slow over rate in opening match of the season

first_imgIndia beat Sri Lanka by 21 runs in their opening fixture of the season on Saturday, but some of the sheen was taken off the victory less than 24 hours later when the team was adjudged guilty of not bowling its overs in time. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team-mates were fined by the match referee for maintaining a slow over-rate during Saturday night’s game. The Indian skipper was fined 20 per cent of his match fee, while each of his players lost 10 per cent of their earnings from the day.Slow over rate has been a recurring problem for India in recent times and the issue resurfacing in the first match of the season is certainly not a good sign for the Men in Blue.Alarmingly, India failed to maintain their over rate even though the spinners bowled as many as 20 overs.Team India, and Dhoni in particular, will now have to carefully watch their over rate as repeated breaches of the rule over a 12-month period can result in a suspension for the captain.last_img read more

Position Vacant – State Development Officer

first_imgNew South Wales Touch Football currently has a vacancy for a State Development Officer and is now accepting applications which will close on Friday, 25 July.  The position of State Development Officer is responsible for the management and delivery of the New South Wales Touch Association development and education programs for playing, coaching, refereeing and selecting throughout the state. The Development Officer also assists Associations in the development of the sport of Touch, working with the Sport Manager, Development Manager, Events Manager, NSWTA State Development Officers and Regional Committees, to maximise opportunities for Touch to be a first choice sport among current and prospective participants. The position has a focus towards an important role in increasing both the quality and quantity of coaches, referees, selectors, administrators and players of all ages as well the quality of domestic competitions.The Development Officer will have involvement from grassroots to elite level. This current role will have a strong focus in the Sydney Inner West, Western, Illawarra and Northern West areas of New South Wales and will be responsible for the delivery of the sport within those boundaries.For more information about this position please view the below application attached or contact Sport Manager, Daniel Rushworth – daniel.rushworth@nswtouch.com.au or (02) 9558 9333.Related Filesnsw_touch_football_sdo_application_package_2014_july__1_-docRelated LinksPosition Vacantlast_img read more

a month agoLiverpool defender Van Dijk: Everyone wants to beat us

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Liverpool defender Van Dijk: Everyone wants to beat usby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool defender Virgil van Dijk insists they can handle being a big target this season.Liverpool became the first side since AC Milan in 1994 to lose the first match of their Champions League defence and the 2-0 reverse in Naples, which featured a rare Van Dijk mistake, has put pressure on their next game against Red Bull Salzburg in two weeks. “Everyone wants to beat us, no matter what competition,” said Van Dijk.”That’s something we have to deal with, but that’s not going to be a problem — we have to enjoy it as well.”For Napoli to win their first game is obviously big, for us to lose our first game is obviously not want we wanted. We have to try to win our other games and we now focus on going to Chelsea.” last_img read more

5 days agoMan Utd midfielder Andreas Pereira under no illusions about size of Liverpool clash

first_imgMan Utd midfielder Andreas Pereira under no illusions about size of Liverpool clashby Paul Vegas5 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira is under no illusions about the size of their clash with Liverpool today.Pereira was born in Belgium and plays for Brazil, but he was reared in the United academy and knows how important beating Liverpool is for everyone connected to the club.”I think you can compare it with Boca Juniors-River Plate, Santos-Corinthians, Flamengo-Fluminense,” he told United Review.”It’s one of the biggest derbies like El Clasico – Real Madrid versus Barcelona – and one of the biggest games, not only in England but in the world.”Everyone will be watching and it’s most important for us, and for the fans.”I always watched these games at home with my dad and my family. You know, I was always very curious and supporting United.”I think it means a lot to us. It’s one of the most important games of the year – it’s the derby and we absolutely want to win this game.”We will do absolutely everything to win it. I know we’re not living the best moment right now, and we’re not getting results, but I think it’s a derby and it is always a different game.”Absolutely, we want to win it – everyone at the club, everyone in the team and the staff.”We all want to do everything to win the game and it can be a nice bounce back and provide a nice lift for us to start getting results.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

6 Members Of UNLV’s 1990 Title Team Got Matching “R.I.P. Coach Tark” Tattoos

first_imgNCAA basketballs sitting in a ball rack on the court.SUNRISE, FL – DECEMBER 21: NCAA basketballs in a rack on the court during the shoot-around proipr to the game between the Florida Gators and the Fresno State Bulldogs during the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic on December 21, 2013 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. Florida defeated Fresno State 66-49. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)The 1990 UNLV basketball team, which defeated Duke by 30 points in the NCAA title game to win its only national championship, was one of the most tightly-knit squads in the sport’s history. And while 25 years may have passed since the team accomplished the feat, it’s clear that they’re still as close as ever.Earlier this week, former Runnin’ Rebels head coach Jerry Tarkanian passed away at the age of 84. To pay homage to their former coach, six former UNLV players – Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, James Jones, Anderson Hunt, Mo Scurry and Chris Jeter – got matching tattoos celebrating his life and their 1990 squad.Johnson and Augmon documented the entire process on Twitter early Wednesday morning.Rip coach Tark LJ Ice Hunt Nice Jeter Mo Scurry pic.twitter.com/4U3cekWNYc— Larry Johnson (@TheRealLJ2) February 18, 2015This is how we remember Coach Tark pic.twitter.com/y3UESuDDcH— Larry Johnson (@TheRealLJ2) February 18, 2015Roommate first, Ice pic.twitter.com/aw7moxPLTX— Larry Johnson (@TheRealLJ2) February 18, 2015MVP Hunt Nice pic.twitter.com/wckyWkplw1— Larry Johnson (@TheRealLJ2) February 18, 2015It’s on me now. pic.twitter.com/k9k0wKSv5m— Larry Johnson (@TheRealLJ2) February 18, 2015James jones pic.twitter.com/tCh9XmWsRu— realstaceyaugmon (@staceyaugmon) February 18, 2015Chris jeter pic.twitter.com/XxY995GuB3— realstaceyaugmon (@staceyaugmon) February 18, 2015Anderson hunt. MVP pic.twitter.com/TGaJkKEq5v— realstaceyaugmon (@staceyaugmon) February 18, 2015Mo scurry pic.twitter.com/Oc3JNdQOvF— realstaceyaugmon (@staceyaugmon) February 18, 2015RIP COACH TARK pic.twitter.com/QyetgoAQFy— realstaceyaugmon (@staceyaugmon) February 18, 2015Very cool. We’ll see if any other members of the team follow suit.last_img read more

Ohio State’s Cardale Jones Claims He’s Transferring To Akron, Then Claims “May Fools”

first_imgCardale Jones says thank you to OSU in joke on twitter for "May fools".Cardale Jones May Fools 5Typically, people use April 1st as the date to troll their friends with some kind of unbelievable joke. Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones apparently celebrates the holiday a month late. Friday, Jones took to Twitter to claim that he is transferring to Akron after a “rough decision” on his part.After a few minutes, he came clean, joking that he’d pulled a “May Fools” joke on everyone.It was a rough decision but I think it’s best for me, like to thank OSU for this amazing opportunity but my time here has came to an end— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) May 1, 2015#NewBeginning #FreshStart— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) May 1, 2015#ZipNation— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) May 1, 2015MAY FOOLS— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) May 1, 2015Jones tried to sell the joke hard, even changing his Twitter bio and background page to reflect his new team.Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 2.29.37 PMJones is probably the frontrunner for the starting job at Ohio State, so this would have been a shocker. Instead, it was merely some Friday afternoon entertainment.last_img read more