NBA GMs believe in Curry, Green but don’t think Warriors can win title

first_imgNBA general managers may not think the Warriors are a real threat to win a championship this season, but they’re still big believers in Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.The league’s top decision-makers are calling Curry the best point guard and best pure shooter, while Green was named the most versatile defender and the NBA’s second-toughest player.With Kevin Durant gone and no Klay Thompson for at least half the season, like many fans and league observers, the men actually running NBA …last_img read more

SA improves travel, tourism competitiveness

first_imgSouth Africa is highly recommended as a destination for businessmen to extend their stay and partake in the many leisure activities on offer.(Image: Stellenbosch Wine Routes) South Africa was ranked 30 out of 140 countries for the quality of its natural environment.(Image: Janine Erasmus) The country did not disgrace itself in the WEF survey, but there are numerous areas that can be improved.(Image: World Economic Forum) MEDIA CONTACTS • Brand South Africa  +27 11 483 0122 • South African Tourism  +27 11 895 3000 RELATED ARTICLES • SA wine tourism best in the world • SA becomes business tourism hub • Grooming the future of tourism • Sustainable tourism a must • SA’s competitiveness consistent MediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporterThe World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its annual Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which this year included 35 African countries.Published under the theme Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation, the report evaluated a record 140 countries on the basis of the steps they are taking to develop their travel and tourism sectors, and to overcome barriers to this development.The respondents were CEOs and business leaders in the 140 nations under scrutiny, as, says WEF, they are the ones making the investment decisions.The report, explains the organisation, is based broadly on three main categories, namely regulatory framework; business environment and infrastructure; and human, cultural and natural resources.These three categories are made up of 14 pillars of competitiveness – Policy rules and regulations; Environmental sustainability; Safety and security; Health and hygiene; Prioritisation of travel and tourism; Air transport infrastructure; Ground transport infrastructure; Tourism infrastructure; ICT infrastructure; Price competitiveness in the travel and tourism industry; Human resources; Affinity for travel and tourism; Natural resources; Cultural resources.Each pillar is further divided into a number of individual indicators, more than 75 in total.The top countries were somewhat predictable – Switzerland, Germany and Austria were the top three, followed by Spain, the UK, US, France, Canada, Sweden and Singapore.The top-ranking African country was Seychelles at 38, followed by previous regional leader Mauritius at 58, South Africa at 64 and Morocco at 71. South Africa gained two places since the previous report of 2011, up from 66.Download the full report from the WEF website.Country one of the best for extension of a business tripSouth Africa is ranked 3rd in the sub-Saharan region and 64th overall, gaining two places since the last edition in 2011.The report’s executive summary cites the country as scoring high marks for its wealth of natural resources – here it came in 17th overall – and 29 for the policies and regulations that promote development of the tourism sector.With 30 other countries, South Africa was joint first in the world for the presence of major car rental agencies. It scored well in the indicators of cost to start a business (3), its international transport network (14), and quality of air transport infrastructure (15). In the latter two sections South Africa fared better than the likes of Denmark, Spain, Canada, the US and Australia.South Africa also excelled in the indicator reflecting whether or not senior executives visiting the country on business are advised to extend their trip with a leisure component. Here it came in as the top African nation and fourth overall in the world, beaten only by New Zealand, France and Austria. Morocco also made it into the top 10, at nine.In the category of transparency of government policymaking – which indicates the ease with which businesses operating in a country have access to information about changes in government policies that could affect their activities – South Africa scored 35, coming in above developed nations such as Denmark, France, Spain, Portugal and the US.Other categories in which the country performed well included 31 for government prioritisation of the travel and tourism industry; 46 for stringency of environmental regulation; 39 for the number of environmental treaties it has ratified; 39 for the number of ATMs that accept Visa cards, per million of the population; 58 for cultural resources; 46 for the quality of its railroad infrastructure; and 42 for road quality.last_img read more

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

first_imgIs There Lead in the Water of Your Green Building?Should You Worry About PFOA in Your Water?Water Risks Higher in Green Buildings, Report FindsStudy Finds EPA Lax in Protecting California WaterPiping as PoisonEPA Looks at Fracking Risks to Water By SUSAN BOSER and DIANE OLESONAmerica’s drinking water infrastructure is aging and in serious need of modernization. Pipes are overdue for replacement, and water and wastewater treatment systems need upgrades to deal with new classes of pollutants. Changing a drinking water standard or adding a new substance to the list of contaminants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency is time-consuming. Some water systems are having problems meeting current standards, much less upgrading to meet new requirements.A 2017 Gallup poll found that 63 percent of Americans worry a great deal about drinking water pollution. And a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Threats on Tap,” suggests that they have good reason. According to the report, community water systems — public systems that serve cities and towns year-round — registered more than 80,000 reported violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015.As water resource educators with Penn State University’s Extension service, our role is to educate the public using research-based information. Most of our work is focused on private water systems — mainly wells and springs, which are used by over 15 million U.S. households. These private systems share many of the critical concerns about public systems addressed in NRDC’s national report. Critical contaminantsBacterial contamination threatens public and private water supplies. It can happen at the source, during water treatment — especially as systems age — or in the piping systems that deliver water to customers.Public water systems are required to disinfect water and maintain a secondary level of disinfectant throughout the system to ensure that water delivered to homes is safe. Leaky supply lines cause several types of problems. First, they waste treated water. Second, they can lower water pressure in the system. When this happens, untreated water can seep in, contaminating water that has already been treated.High-quality construction and maintenance are crucial for private water systems too. We have seen systems that lacked a watertight well cap, allowing insects or surface water to enter the well. Some wells have cracked casings enclosing the well bore hole, or no casing at all, which can allow polluted runoff to contaminate water in the well. When private septic systems fail to properly treat wastewater, bacteria from the wastewater can contaminate the landowner’s private well, and may reach aquifers serving other nearby wells and municipal systems.The water supply crisis in Flint, Michigan has brought new attention to lead contamination and other impacts associated with corrosive water. Similar problems exist in other private and public systems. Most lead contamination comes from supply lines to the home or lead solder in pipes and fixtures within the home.We receive calls from homeowners concerned about lead in both public and private water supplies. If their home was built before lead solder was banned from plumbing systems in 1991, we recommend testing their water. Clean water and proper sanitation have greatly improved life expectancy in the United States over the past 150 years. Now, however, we see an urgent need to upgrade water infrastructure, and to update regulations, enforcement and public education about drinking water safety. With many public and private water systems across the nation aging and under stress, it is important for everyone to understand the risks associated with drinking water contamination, and to know how to take simple steps such as having their water tested if they suspect there may be a problem. The authors are extension educators with Pennsylvania State University. This article was originally published at The Conversation.center_img RELATED ARTICLES Monitoring and testing are crucialWe can treat only what we monitor. Over the years, Penn State Extension’s research has found that fewer than 50% of private water system owners have ever had their water tested. Although we work to educate private water system owners about their responsibility to monitor their water, and recommend testing it annually, many owners only do so when they are concerned about their water’s appearance or taste.Monitoring is just as critical for public water systems, on a much larger scale. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has proposed new fees, at EPA’s urging, to pay for hiring more inspectors for public water systems that serve more than 10 million residents. This is a step in the right direction but a drop in the bucket compared to current needs.Protecting source waters and preventing contamination in the first place is even more cost-effective than hiring new inspectors. Pollution is much easier to contain at the source than when it is detected downstream or has already contaminated drinking water supplies.Safe drinking water is a critical resource. The United States needs to invest in infrastructure, public education, source water protection, regulation and monitoring for new contaminants to keep water flowing to a thirsty nation. Land use and source water protectionDelivering clean drinking water starts with protecting sources, including groundwater and surface rivers and lakes. Many water quality problems that we see in Pennsylvania are based on local land uses. Nitrates from agriculture and development are a particular problem in water wells in the southeast and south-central parts of the state. Exposure to nitrates in drinking water can cause health effects, especially in infants, inhibiting their blood’s ability to carry oxygen.Fertilizer from farm fields, lawns and gardens contributes large amounts of nitrogen to surface and groundwater. Nitrates are very water-soluble and readily move across the land and into groundwater. Pesticides and herbicides do the same if they are not properly applied. Homes in rural areas that use septic systems can also release nitrates if the systems aren’t working properly.In western Pennsylvania, unconventional shale gas drilling has become a major industry since 2009. In late 2016 EPA published a report on how these operations can affect drinking water. Many homeowners near drilling operations are proactively testing their water supplies to get a baseline reading of their well water quality.When land uses change — for example, energy operations move in, or a farm is sold and developed — nearby residents frequently take a closer look at their source water and watch for impacts within the watershed supply area. Households that use well water face some unique challenges. EPA does not regulate private water supplies. Pennsylvania does not have statewide well construction standards, and only a few municipalities regulate water testing or construction. In general, homeowners with private water systems are solely responsible for testing their water and installing any necessary treatment equipment to correct problems.We always tell well owners not to apply or dump anything within 100 feet of their well that they don’t want to drink, since this area supplies most of the water to their well. On a larger scale, the same advice holds true for public water supplies.Some communities are creating source water collaboratives to monitor drinking water supplies and address problems. For example, the River Alert Information Network is a regional water protection program in the Ohio River basin in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. This network of public water systems has set up a real-time monitoring network that can notify drinking water supply intakes downstream of contamination that may be flowing in their direction.last_img read more