By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 19, 2020 9:06:39 am
In a social media post, Qantas announced that it would fly by Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the Whitsundays, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney Harbour. (Source: Pixabay)
The pandemic has made it difficult for people to travel. While international travel is still restricted, domestic travel protocols vary from country to country. But amid all this, many people around the world are simply missing the thrill of boarding the flight in anticipation of reaching somewhere. But, to make things a little interesting, Australian airline Qantas recently announced its plan for a seven-hour scenic flight to nowhere.
According to CNN, the ‘flights to nowhere’ serve the purpose of taking passengers on a journey, without really reaching any destination. In a social media post, Qantas announced that it would fly by Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the Whitsundays, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney Harbour.
“Miss taking to the skies together? Us too! Weve designed a special scenic joy flight onboard our 787 Dreamliner for those who just want to spread their wings no passport or quarantine required. Departing Sydney on 10 October, the Great Southern Land scenic flight will feature low-level flybys of some of Australias most iconic landmarks including Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the Whitsundays, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney Harbour. Be quick! Fares go on sale at 12pm AEST today, (sic)” it wrote on Instagram.
The outlet reports that the flight — that is due to depart from the Sydney Domestic Airport on October 10 and return seven hours later — has proven to be immensely popular. Its 134 tickets, spanning business class, premium economy and economy, ranging from AUD$787 to $3,787 (Rs 42,244.90 to Rs 2,03,280.10) were reportedly booked in just 10 minutes.
“It’s probably the fastest-selling flight in Qantas history. People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying. If the demand is there, we’ll definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open,” a Qantas spokesperson was quoted as saying in The Straits Times.
Previously, Taiwans Civil Aviation Administration had organised a fantasy flight to nowhere, wherein the flight didnt take off, and the engines didnt start. Yet, some 66 passengers boarded the flight. They were required to check-in, following which they were given their boarding passes. They had to pass through security and immigration, before they were allowed to board the flight.
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Royal Dutch Shell Plc will cut as many as 9,000 jobs as Covid-19 accelerates a companywide restructuring into low-carbon energy.
The move reflects the challenge facing Big Oil as the pandemic persists, with some in the industry believing the era of demand growth is already over. As the crisis hastens the shift to cleaner energy, oil majors are axing jobs, taking multibillion-dollar writedowns and even slashing once-sacrosanct dividends.
At Shell, job reductions of 7,000 to 9,000 are expected by the end of 2022, including around 1,500 people taking voluntary redundancy this year, the company said Wednesday. It currently has about 83,000 employees. Sustainable annual cost savings of $2 billion to $2.5 billion are predicted by that time.
“We have to be a simpler, more streamlined, more competitive organization,” Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said in a statement. “In many places, we have too many layers in the company: too many levels between me, as the CEO, and the operators and technicians at our locations.”
Shell also warned of lower sales in the third quarter, saying oil-product volumes were around 4 million to 5 million barrels a day, down from 6.7 million a day a year earlier. Oil-product trading results will fall short of the historical average and will be “significantly lower” than in the second quarter.
That shows the oil-trading bonanza that saved Shell’s last set of results won’t be repeated. The company also expects refining margins to be much lower than in the second quarter. Its full third-quarter financials, scheduled for Oct. 29, will include impairment charges of $1 billion to $1.5 billion.
Shell’s B shares were trading 0.6% higher to 962.6 pence as of 9:10 a.m. in London.
Oil’s coronavirus-induced plunge has seen Shell’s peers also take drastic steps to shore up the balance sheet. BP Plc said in June it planned to cut 10,000 jobs, Chevron Corp. intends to trim 10% to 15% of its global workforce, while Exxon Mobil Corp. is reviewing staffing country by country.
“The transformation to a leaner and lower-carbon organization is the right one for Shell longer-term in our view,” Barclays analysts including Lydia Rainforth wrote in research note. “But with the macro environment still challenging, this may take some time to reflect in the share price.”
Shell began the process in May, when Van Beurden told staff in a memo that it was reshaping the company to make it leaner and more resilient and that there could be redundancies in the second half of the year, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The Anglo-Dutch major offered voluntary severance, scaled back recruitment and reviewed expatriate staff contracts.
“These incremental details should help investors who think Shell has been sitting on its hands in recent months,” RBC Capital analyst Biraj Borkhataria wrote in a note Wednesday. But he highlighted that investors will want more details on the major’s plans, expected in Shell’s strategy day on Feb. 11.
The reorganization is also designed to further Shell’s expanded green ambitions. The company said in April it planned to eliminate all net emissions from its own operations and the bulk of greenhouse gases from fuel it sells to its customers by 2050. The Anglo-Dutch firm also said that ultimately, it would only do business with emission-free companies.
Edwin Sodi, who was involved in an alleged asbestos looting scheme in the Free State, has reportedly been arrested by the Hawks along with the former head of the department of human settlements in the Free State, Nthimose Mokhesi and the former director-general of the national department of human settlements Thabane Zulu.
The Hawks in the Free State said the arrests could not be confirmed at this stage as the operation is ongoing and that a media statement will follow in due course.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has continued hearing testimony from different witnesses on the asbestos audit project over the past few days.
This includes that a joint venture between Sodi and the late businessman Phikolomzi Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani, was awarded a R255-million contract to remove asbestos from houses in the province, for work which could have been done at R21 million.
Based on testimony Zondo has heard, the joint venture did little to no work, with the third subcontractor in the contract doing most of the work, which was counting the houses in the Free State that needed to have asbestos removed.
The joint venture scored the contract with the Free State department of human settlements in December 2014.
Last year, Zondo heard testimony that Mpambani acceded to “onerous requests” for the payment of monies for different purposes which were made by the office of the former premier of the Free State, Ace Magashule.
Mpambani allegedly sourced the money from the asbestos project, Zondo heard.
On Monday, Zondo heard testimony that Sodi and Mokhesi entered into a trust to purchase a residential property while the business was a contractor with the department Mokhesi headed.
Zulu has given testimony before Zondo and denied receiving any money from the asbestos project.
The former economic development MEC in the Free State Mxolisi Dukwana had presented before Zondo a spreadsheet which revealed that Zulu was allegedly a beneficiary of a R10 million from the asbestos project.
This story will be updated once more information has been provided by the Hawks.
(Additional reporting, News24Wire)
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Editor’s Note: This series is produced in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).
With the winter season upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, cold weather conditions are forcing people to stay indoors. Coupled with children heading back to school and offices reopening, there is looming concern around a second wave of the coronavirus in Europe, North America and other parts of the world.
COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease. In closed and crowded indoor settings, there is a higher risk of it spreading compared with the outdoors, where the flow of fresh air can dilute and dissipate the virus particles.
According to the WHO, the coronavirus is primarily transmitted by droplets spread through direct or close contact with an infected person, and indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, also known as fomite transmission.
But there is also the possibility of airborne transmission in crowded indoor settings with poor ventilation, such as restaurants, gyms, night clubs and offices.
A number of measures can be taken to reduce the risk of infection in such closed settings.
Ventilation is the introduction of fresh air into an indoor space while the stale air is pushed outside.
Whether at home or in public buildings, such as schools and offices, ventilation can be improved by simply opening windows and doors whenever possible.
Luca Fontana, a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) specialist consultant at the WHO, told Al Jazeera ventilation is “one part of the big package of infection prevention and control measures” along with physical distancing, hand hygiene and face masks.
“The general proposal of ventilation in the building is to provide healthy air for breathing by both diluting the pollutant originating in the building and removing the pollutant from the space itself,” he said in a recent Facebook live Q&A.
In public spaces, ventilation through mechanical measures like heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can be helpful in improving indoor air quality.
According to the WHO, a well-maintained and operated HVAC system can reduce the spread of COVID-19 in indoor spaces by increasing the rate of air change, reducing recirculation of air and increasing the use of outdoor air.
The air should preferably not be recirculated and the HVAC systems should be regularly inspected, maintained and cleaned by professionals.
Air blowing from an infected person directly at another in a closed space might increase the transmission of the virus from one person to another.
Maria Neira, WHO
Filters and fans
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that are commonly used in aeroplanes and hospitals are another useful tool to remove viruses and germs from the atmosphere.
These can minimise the duration of the exposure to any potential infectious materials produced by a cough or sneeze.
The use of fans, with certain considerations, can improve air circulation and reduce pockets of stagnant air in an enclosed space.
“A table or pedestal fan is safe for air circulation among family members living together who are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Maria Neira, director of the department of public health and environment at the WHO.
“However, fans should be avoided when people who are not part of the immediate family [are present], since some people could have the virus despite not having symptoms,” she added.
“Air blowing from an infected person directly at another in a closed space might increase the transmission of the virus from one person to another.”
When using a ceiling fan, Fontana said it was important to maintain good ventilation – by opening a window for instance – as an efficient way to increase the exchange of air between indoors and outdoors.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can generally be used to disinfect air, water, and surfaces. But its effectiveness in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus – which causes COVID-19 – is not fully established.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), UV radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-coronavirus, but there is limited published data about the wavelength, dose, and duration of UV radiation needed to render it inactive.
The WHO’s Fontana said UV lamps should always be used with HEPA filters and not as a stand-alone solution.
Meanwhile, the UN health agency has strongly cautioned against using UV light to disinfect hands or other areas of your skin as this may cause skin irritation and damage your eyes.
The pandemic is also pushing architects, engineers and urban planners to rethink the way buildings, especially public places, are designed.
On its website, the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) recommends: “Reorienting adjoining workstations so employees do not face each other could be an important component of an overall plan to address the virus.”
In places like Mauritius, Italy and Ghana, Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and COVID-19 screening facilities have been purposely built to allow for natural ventilation.
“In the … future, defining clear design may strengthen the use of natural ventilation in different healthcare settings,” Fontana said, adding that the WHO was working to identify key building criteria not just for COVID-19, but other potential respiratory diseases as well.
Testing air quality
Simple devices are available on the market to measure the airflow rate and direction.
Measuring the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) is a good indicator of indoor air quality, Fontana explained.
“The more crowded the place is, the more CO2 is produced into the space; and the more effective the ventilation is, the lower the level of CO2,” he said.
Companies are also racing to find more sophisticated and innovative ways to tackle the pandemic.
PathogenDx, a US-based enterprise, has developed a DNA/RNA-based microarray testing technology to specifically detect the new coronavirus in the air and on surfaces.
The human sample diagnostics are yet to be approved by the FDA, but the company is already selling its kits for environmental testing.
Milan Patel, co-founder and CEO of PathogenDx, told Al Jazeera this hybrid technology can be beneficial in aeroplanes, gyms, call centres and other enclosed spaces.
The Native American Cherokee Nation is among their biggest clients, carrying out 200 to 300 tests a month for its population.
“This isn’t an at-home test; it is one that a lab does because at the end of the day it’s a molecular type of testing and it needs all the lab equipment … and the level of sensitivity with this type of equipment,” Patel said.
Kampala, Uganda |THE INDEPENDENT |Food and environment activists say you need to urgently find ways of avoiding food loss and waste or risk financial and environment losses.
The Minister of Agriculture, Vincent Sempijja and Food Agricultural Organization Country representative, Antonio Querido say it is high time that you rethink how to avoid such losses at harvest or during marketing of you food.
Their call comes as Uganda marks the first International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (DAFLW).The United Nations General Assembly recently designated 29th September as the International Day of Awareness of Food Waste and loss.
The day is aimed at raising awareness against food loss and wastage. Agriculture Minister, Vincent Sempijja told journalists in Kampala that in Uganda food loss mainly occurs during harvest and post-harvest handling. He said food loss and waste also happens in in homes especially when cooked or uncooked food is thrown to the dust bins.
“The government of Uganda has put in place enabling policy frameworks for food loss reduction and these include the constitution of republic of Uganda objective 12 (twelve) which compels the state to take appropriate steps to grow and store adequate food, vision 2040 which underscores the need to reduce food loss and wastage and improve food safety among others” said Sempijja
He also says that food loss and waste is one of the biggest challenges, for growth of the agriculture sector because it threatens household incomes, food security and nutrition.
According to Sempijja, over 17% of 2.8 million tons of maize produced in Uganda annually is lost or wasted during harvest or post handling services. He said it is estimated 12.4 % of the 214,000 tons of millet is lost or wasted in Uganda annually.
Food and Agricultural Organisation Country Representative, Antonio Querido says it is important that people understand that food loss and waste affects the economy of the country and individuals.
Querido explained that in case of Uganda like other countries, when food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce I like t, water, land, energy, labor and capital goes to waste.
He explained that in case of wastage in homes, poor disposal of food in landscapes lead to greenhouse emission which contribute to climate change.
He said in the COVID 19 pandemic in Uganda and the rest world brought to the fore front about the need to reform and balance the way our food is produced and consumed. Globally, it is estimated that 14% of the food produced is lost between the harvest and retail leading to 40 million dollars lost by smallholder farmers.
A study conducted by Food Right Alliance(FRA) and Twaweza among others urged for the need to address the food systems in the country. Food Rights Alliance Executive director, Agnes Kirabo revealed that hat if a farmer in Uganda produces 10 kilograms of maize, that farmer loses about 1.2 Kilograms on the farm.
Kirabo says food waste constitutes a huge proportion of garbage collected or disposed in Kampala on a daily basis. She added that if food that goes to waste was saved, it would help many people who are suffering in the neighborhoods.
She appeals to Ugandans that as they are trying to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, they should ensure that the available food should be put in right use which will help to them to improve the immunity to fight the virus
“Take responsibility and personal actions as an individual. Consume responsibly and don’t serve a full plate of food which will be left to waste yet others are missing” said Kirabo
The campaign against food loss and waste is part of the sustainable development goal target 12.3 which aims to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains.
Between March and June when the total lockdown was partially lifted, dairy and poultry farmers lost market for their products because hotels, restaurants and food service points were no longer buying eggs, milk and beef among other foods.
Banana and other fresh food producers also registered a high drop in demand leading to low prices. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, food is lost or wasted on-farm through inadequate harvesting time, climatic conditions, practices applied at harvest and handling, and challenges in marketing produce.
The other loss occurs in storage where significant losses are caused by inadequate storage, as well as decisions made at earlier stages of the supply chain that cause products to have a shorter shelf life. In Uganda, the loss in transit is equally big though usually ignored.
Studies have called for good infrastructure and efficient trade logistics so as to prevent food loss.They have also suggested the need to improve processing and packaging so as top reserve foods, and losses often caused by inadequate facilities, technical malfunction, or human error.
The causes of food waste at the retail level are linked to limited shelf life, the need for food products to meet aesthetic standards in terms of color, shape, and size, and variability in demand. While at home, don’t serve yourself food that you cannot finish eating.
Food buyers are advised to adequately plan to avoid excess buying normally influenced by over-large portioning and package sizes, confusion over labels and poor in-home storage.
Lusaka ~ Wed, 30 Sept 2020 By ZR Reporter Finance minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu has disclosed that Zambia is hoping to reach a debt restructuring agreement with creditors by April, 2020, a move that will see the country getting nearly US$1 billion of debt service relief from its requests.
Unconventional fresh perspectives outside the mainstream voices in public, featuring original submissions from reporters and bloggers within Zambia and among the diaspora.
THE South African Police Service (Saps) has arrested three people for illegal possession of 707 620 cartons of cigarettes valued close to R1 million — all of Zimbabwean origin.
The arrest was made during a province-wide operation in which 1 574 people including a 14-year-old girl were netted.
In a statement yesterday, Saps spokesperson Motlafela Mojapelo said 707 620 cartoons of illicit cigarettes, 25 dangerous weapons, 8 180 grammes of dagga, 2 907 grammes of nyaope drugs, 12 firearms, 46 knives and 2 596 520 millimetres of liquor.
“The other two suspects were arrested around Mokopane policing area, for possession of illicit cigarettes worth eight hundred and eighty thousand rand (R880 000), during a sting joint operation by Crime Intelligence and Visible Policing members. A 34-year-old male suspect and his female accomplice aged 25, were found in possession of about 90 large boxes containing illicit cigarettes,” he said.
The arrests were through roadblocks and other co-ordinated patrols in which some illegal immigrants suspected to be from Zimbabwe were also nabbed.
He said 348 crime awareness campaigns were conducted, 2 821 compliance inspections at liquor premises, 23 drug operations, 215 liquor control operations, 86 roadblocks, 152 rural safety operations, 3 983 stop and search, 3 718 VCP, 290 domestic violence incidents attended, 258 protection orders served, 44 shebeens closed, 5 704 blue light patrols, 16 954 vehicles and 33 403 people searched and 1 972 traffic fine tickets issued.
“Among the arrested is a 14-year-old on a charge of perjury after she opened a false case of kidnapping at Tzaneen Police Station on Friday September 25 2020,” he said. The teenager had misinformed the police that she and her friend, a learner at Meridian College in Tzaneen were walking from school when unknown suspects driving in a white panel van grabbed her friend and forced her inside the vehicle.”
During the lockdown, South Africa banned sales of cigarettes and Zimbabweans took advantage of the embargo to smuggle cigarettes into that country.
The Senate yesterday received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari for the elevation of eight Appeal Court justices to the Supreme Court.
The president’s request along with that of the confirmation of the board of the National Population Commission (NPC) as well as non-career ambassadorial nominees were read at plenary by President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan.
The request for the confirmation of the eight justices as justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was contained in a letter dated August 31, 2020.
According to Buhari, the request for the confirmation of the eight justices to the nation’s apex court was in line with the provisions of Section 231(2) of the 1999 Constitution and the advice of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The letter read in part: “Pursuant to section 231(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and upon the advice of the National Judicial Council, I hereby present for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of the under-listed Eight Justices of the Court of Appeal as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, according to their ranking of seniority at the Court of Appeal.
“They are Hon. Justice Lawal Garba, North-west; Hon. Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, South-west; Hon. Justice Addu Aboki, North-west; Hon. Justice I. M. M. Saulawa, North-west; Hon. Justice Adamu Jauro, North-east; Hon. Justice Samuel Oseji, South-south; Hon. Justice Tijjani Abubakar, North-east; and Hon. Justice Emmanuel Agim, South-south.”
In another request to the Senate dated September 14, 2020, the president sought the confirmation of appointment of the Chairman and Commissioners of the National Population Commission (NPC).
The appointees are Nasir Kwarra (Nasarawa), Chairman; Ali Silas Agara (Nasarawa); Mohammed Chiso Dottoji (Sokoto); Gidado Folorunso (Kwara); Ibrahim Mohammed (Bauchi); Joseph Shazin (FCT); Ajayi Sunday (Ekiti); Garba Zakar (Jigawa); Aliyu Muhammad (Yobe); Muhammad Rini (Zamfara); Bala Banya (Katsina); and Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin (Lagos).
Buhari, in another letter, sought the confirmation of Ambassador Muhammad Manta and Yusuf Yunusa as non-career ambassador-designates.
The request, according to the president, was made in accordance with Section 171(1), (2)(c) and sub-section (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He noted that the appointment of both nominees serve as replacement to his earlier submission, wherein he nominated Air Commodore Peter Gana (rtd) and Alhaji Yusuf Mohammed, from Niger and Yobe States respectively.
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The upper legislative chamber was also asked by the president via another communication to confirm Chairman, Executive Vice Chairman, Executive Commissioners and Non-Executive Commissioners of Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
They are Emeka Nwakpa, South-east, (Chairman); Babatunde Irukera, North Central (Executive Vice Chairman); Yinka Apata, South-west, (Executive Commissioner); Adamu Abdullahi, North-east, (Executive Commissioner); Wakili Ahmed, North-west, (Non-Executive Commissioner); Ayang Eyam, South-south, (Non-Executive Commissioner); Ben Nwoye, South-east, (Non-Executive Commissioner), and Theophilus Oyebiyi, North-central, (Non-Executive Commissioner).”
The Senate president will in today’s plenary refer the nominees to relevant committees for further legislative action.