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Climate change
Tenth of pandemic stimulus spend could help world reach climate goals: study
15 October 2020, 9:43 PM

The world could get on track to avert catastrophic climate change by investing a tenth of a planned $12 trillion in pandemic recovery packages in reducing dependence on fossil fuels, according to a study published on Thursday.

With the stimulus representing about 15% of global gross domestic product, or three times the commitment after the 2008 financial crisis, scientists say the money could prove pivotal in meeting the temperature goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“It makes absolute sense not just to keep your economy alive with palliative care, but to restructure your economy so it’s future-ready,” Joeri Rogelj, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, and a co-author of the paper, told Reuters.

The most ambitious goal in the Paris accord aims to cap the rise in global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius, which scientists say could avert far more intense disasters, from wildfires and hurricanes to storm surges and floods.
The world could start to bring that target within reach if governments used 10% of the planned stimulus to back climate-friendly projects such as renewable energy or energy efficiency every year for the next five years, according to the paper, published in the journal Science.

Public and private investors would also need to slash investment in fossil fuel-heavy sectors from a projected $1.1trillion per year over the next five years under existing climate plans, to closer to $800 billion, to begin pivoting the global economy towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

While the European Union, Germany, France, South Korea and various others have pledged to support a low-carbon shift, governments have so far mostly used rescue packages to prop up business as usual, according to separate research by Energy Policy Tracker https://www.energypolicytracker.org, a non profit research project.

Among G20 countries, the tracker has identified $393 billion worth of government commitments to transport, buildings, power and extractive industries. Of this total, $209 billion directly supported the production and consumption of fossil fuels, and$145 billion went to renewable energy.

“Public commitments since the pandemic are so far critically insufficient to meet Paris targets,” Ivetta Gerasimchuk, sustainable energy lead at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, who works on the tracker, told Reuters.

Polls
Trump and Biden to headline dueling town halls, as early voters swamp polls
15 October 2020, 8:11 PM

US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will hold dueling prime-time town halls on Thursday instead of a second debate, which was to have been held virtually, as early voters continued to swamp polling places.

Trump pulled out of the scheduled debate when the commission in charge of organizing the event said it would be held virtually after he contracted the coronavirus. A final debate is still scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.

With less than three weeks to go until the November 3 vote, the Republican president is searching for ways to change the dynamics of a race in which Biden has a double-digit advantage in some national polls.

More than 17 million Americans have cast ballots either in person or by mail so far, representing 12.5% of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election, according to the US Elections Project at the University of Florida.

Voters are seeking to avoid in-person lines on Election Day to stay safe as coronavirus infections and hospitalisations continue to rise, but are also concerned about the possibility that Trump will challenge widely used mail-in ballots, after he claimed without evidence that they are fraudulent.

North Carolina, a highly competitive state, began more than two weeks of in-person early voting on Thursday.
Video from local media showed large numbers of people waiting for the polls to open in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and gathering in the pre-dawn hours to vote at two arenas in estate’s largest city of Charlotte.

Gerry Cohen, a member of the election board in the county that includes most of the city of Raleigh, reported more than400 people waiting in line at a community center before polls opened.

“I’ve never seen this many in line here,” he said on Twitter.
Trump’s campaign is counting on a surge of last-minute votes. But Reuters/Ipsos polling conducted between Oct. 9 and October 13 shows there are far fewer undecided likely voters this year – around 8% – and they are just as likely to pick Biden ashy are Trump.

Four years ago at this stage of the campaign, more than twice as many people were similarly wavering between Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The Reuters/Ipsos polling shows Biden holding a 10percentage-point lead nationally, with a tighter margin in the battleground states that will help decide the election.

Both candidates have been visiting those states this week, with Trump holding rallies in Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa and Biden traveling to Ohio and Florida.

Trump has pulled into a statistical tie with Biden in Florida, a key battleground, with 47% support versus Biden’s 49%, and a credibility interval of 4 points, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed.

Thursday’s town halls, in which each candidate will field questions from voters, will take place at 8 pm EDT (0000 GMT), with Trump on NBC from Miami and Biden on ABC from Philadelphia.

A group of 100 Hollywood actors and producers wrote a letter of protest to NBC, saying airing Trump’s town hall was “enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.”

On Thursday, the Biden campaign said two people involved in the campaign had tested positive for COVID-19, including one on the staff of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate.

Although neither Biden nor Harris was in close contact with the people, the campaign said it was cancelling Harris’ travel until after Sunday.

“This shows how seriously we take COVID, how we have since March done everything in our power as a campaign to ensure the safety of our staff and volunteers and voters,” Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, told reporters on a call.

Opposition parties react to Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan
15 October 2020, 7:00 PM

Opposition political parties say there is not much that is new in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan announced in Parliament on Thursday.

Parties say he has expanded the same programmes he announced in his State of the Nation Address earlier this year.

They have also questioned whether there is any capacity and willingness to implement the commitment.

“I’m afraid the President gets zero benefit of the doubt anymore on implementation. There’s a growing credibility gap between what he says and what is being implemented and that is what is concerning us the most. We don’t need more plans in South Africa. We don’t need more commitments to reform. We’ve had that for two and a half years. Now what we need is action and what I would have liked to have seen the President say today is, “We will do the following reforms by this date and a public commitment and if we don’t get that done by that date, then the ministers responsible will be held accountable. They will be removed from the cabinet”, says the DA’s Geordin Hill.

The UDM was equally critical of the President’s plan, citing previous commitments of job creation that never came to fruition.

“Even if you were to look at the previous administration when he was Deputy President, the number of job commitments, job opportunity commitments were made but none of those were achieved. The problem with the ANC government is it’s easy for them to actually throw figures around and give themselves commitment rather commit themselves to figures. But later on they don’t account to say how many of those jobs they’ve managed to create. Ours then as the as the assembly and Parliament is to ensure that we keep track, we keep them in check and ensure that whatever commitments and promises they’ve made they are held to accountable for,” says the UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa.

 

The ACDP says that government’s implementation is being largely tainted by corruption.

“From SONAto date, we have not seen the implementation and this is largely as a result of corruption. It is largely as a result of an inept government largely as a result of the challenges of a government that is not as efficient as it ought to be.  We have been very vocal in terms of the fact that we do need to see beneficiation taking place. We do need to see localisation taking place. We do need to see our young people in particular being upskilled,” says the ACDP’s Waine Thring .

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald says the President has too many hurdles that will make it difficult for him to succeed.

“It is quite clear, as far as the Freedom Front Plus is concerned that the President is a prisoner of NEDLAC on the one side and also a prisoner of the social economic ideology of the ANC. He cannot create the jobs we need. He’s going to create 800 000 jobs. What about the 2,2 million jobs at this moment we know about that has been lost and it’s going to be more when we get the new reports for the new quarters of the of the term. ”

The AIC, on the other hand, was pleased with the plan but cautioned that if corruption is not stemmed, the plan cannot succeed.

“It is a good plan but without stemming out corruption it cannot succeed. The President says he is going to focus on corruption to ensure  that corruption is done away with. People have become so corrupt that it cannot be controlled, but I was happy now when he mentioned that the SIU should be given time to do its job and there should be no political interference,” says AIC President, Lulama Ntshayisa .

The IFP also cited corruption as the issue with implementation.

” The problem of South Africa is not the lack of plans but corruption that we are not dealing decisively with. But we are happy that the President spoke about making sure that the law enforcement agencies will be assisted in with the monies given to them so that they do their work. We hope that what we’ve just seen recently where people are alleged  to have committed corruption are dealt with. Then we would have hoped that all these plans will actually come to something,” says IFP Deputy President Elphas Buthelezi.

Ramaphosa presents SA’s Economic Recovery Plan:

 

Guitar
Taylor Swift, Bradley Cooper guitars to be auctioned for COVID-19 relief
15 October 2020, 5:55 PM

Taylor Swift, Bradley Cooper and Keith Urban have donated guitars to a celebrity country music auction to raise funds for everyday workers in the industry whose livelihoods have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Swift’s signed black Gibson acoustic guitar that she played for the live debut performance of her new song “betty” in September, comes along with nine of the singer’s custom picks in a lot that could fetch $25 000 to $40 000, Christie’s auction house said on Thursday.

 

The electric guitar Cooper played as washed-up country singer Jackson Maine in his 2018 film “A Star is Born” is also up for sale, with an estimate of $2 000 to $4 000.

The auction, starting on Thursday and running until October 29, will benefit the Academy of Country Music’s Lifting LivesCOVID-19 Response Fund, which was created to support people behind the scenes in the country music industry centered around Nashville.

“When the pandemic hit in the spring, Nashville was hit pretty hard,” said Nancy Valentino from Christie’s business development department.

“This is one of the instances where you have the artists helping the people who work with them – tour bus drivers, roadies, session workers, caterers – no one is working,” she added.

Other auction items include a bedazzled dulcimer owned by Dolly Parton for 30 years ($50 000 to $100 000), Sheryl Crow’s vintage Baldoni accordion ( $8 000 to $12 000), and guitars owned by Keith Urban, Dwight Yoakam, Blake Shelton and Vince Gill.

In addition to the instruments, Tim McGraw is auctioning hisF131 Hellcat motorcycle, while Carrie Underwood donated the gown she wore to the Academy of Country Music Awards show in Nashville in September.
“We were so impressed by how quickly artists volunteered to donate, and donated things that are so special to them, “Valentino said.

ANC
Tensions flare between Free State ANC and Youth League over military training invite
15 October 2020, 5:11 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) and the ANC Youth League National Task Team are on a collision course over the Free State ANC Youth League Fezile Dabi region’s invitation to members to sign up for military training.

While the mother body has called for heads to roll, the Task Team has vowed to defend them.

The invitation, embellished with pictures of the organisation’s logo and two guns, advertises the camp as offering basic military training, hiking, gun handling, guerrilla tactics and political education.

 

It says members who are committed to defending the revolution and are combatants for Africans are invited to attend.

The invitation comes just a week after racial tensions flared in the Free State town of Senekal when white farmers attempted to take the law into their hands over the murder of farm manager Brenden Horner.

However, Deputy Regional Secretary of the ANC Youth League Fezile Dabi region Thabo Baleni says the military camp is to tackle the perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence and human trafficking.

“This programme is made by the ANC Youth League in response to the current issues we are facing as a country, gender-based violence that is on-going. The issue of human trafficking, we are no longer feeling safe and protected. We believe that this programme is supposed to be meeting the government halfway in as far as trying to curb the challenges so it is in no way a form of saying an encouragement or incitement to violence but to say it is for self-protection.”

Baleni insists that the body is autonomous and is not required to consult with either the national leadership of the party or the league about its programmes.

“There are a number of programmes that we have championed in the youth interest and there has not been any consultation with the ANC NEC in that regard. It is not the practice in the ANC that the region would do the programmes in consultation with the ANC or the ANCYL national. There would have to be a basis on which we are told why this programme would not necessarily be good if the ANC Youth League in the national would have a problem which this perhaps they should outline what they see as best for the country. ”

ANC National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe, has rubbished Baleni’s claims of autonomy – calling the invitation and its illegal contents an attention-seeking ploy.

He says action must be taken against members of the Free State ANC Youth League’s Fezile Dabi region.

“What the structure of the ANCYL must be doing in that province they have got to look at possibilities of referring charges against their own structure in that province. The Youth League has organised its programmes as long as those programmes are legal and are within what the ANC stands for the Youth League is not going to organise a programme that goes against the values of the ANC  and the ANC keeps quiet, it is not going to happen, and I have spoken to the provincial secretary of the ANCYL, he has told us already that they have written a letter to their own structure of the ANCYL. We are expecting them to take action, there must not be even suspending they must take action. ”

However, the ANC Youth League National Task Team has leapt to the region’s defence. The Task Team is currently administering the affairs of the ANC Youth League after its disbandment in 2019 as a result of its failure to convene a long-overdue elective conference.

Task Team’s Sizophila Mkhize says the body has spoken to the ANC Youth League region’s leadership who have agreed to retract the invitation and apologise for their conduct.

She says while the Task Team says it does not condone their behaviour, they are amongst those who were simply trying to assist in defending the ANC against racist elements in the Free State town of Senekal.

“We don’t agree with the ANC. The ANC needs to understand that when it is not doing anything,  young people are going to do something because right now the ANC is folding its arms. We are the ones who ran to Senekal last week and made sure that they reopen the case. They never followed that up so the ANC cannot want to fold arms and when young people want to do what they want to do then they say heads must roll. No heads must roll and if the ANC wants to test us on this one they must try to do any sort of suspension or expulsion of our members. We are going to protect our members as much as we don’t agree with what they have done we have a way of solving it. ”

 

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