Passengers love the Emirates’ A380 bar According to AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas, the airlines that have achieved the double seven-star for safety and product in alphabetical order are: Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air from Taiwan, Korean Air, Qantas Airways, Royal Jordanian, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.“These are airlines that are clearly standouts in the world of aviation and have dedicated years of effort to achieve these high standards,” said Mr Thomas. “They are at the forefront of innovation and operational excellence and are always on the winner’s podium collecting awards for their efforts.”Mr Thomas noted however that there were a number of airlines, such as Virgin Australia that were ‘knocking on the door’ of achieving the double. “Once it has completed its extensive makeover, Virgin Australia will be a seven-star airline. It’s only product inconsistency on a few routes that keeps it out of the seven-star category,” said Mr Thomas.Best of the low cost airlines were New York-based JetBlue Airways, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, German-based TUIfly and Denver-based Frontier which achieved a seven-star safety rating and the maximum – for a budget airline – five-star product rating.“In the case of JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and Frontier they often offer a better product than many so-called full service airlines in the US,” said Mr Thomas.
12 November 2009Bafana Bafana’s 2010 Fifa World Cup™ jersey has been unveiled. According to jersey sponsors Adidas, South African and German teams spent two years designing the jersey, which includes the South African flag on the front and an African art print on the collar.The jersey is primarily yellow, with green trim, and includes 11 threads to symbolize diversity in unity, as well as modern interpretations of traditional South African artwork.There are two versions of the jersey, known as “Techfit skin-tight” and “Formotion”. Both include “climacool” technology, which helps to control sweating.Speaking at the release of the new strip at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena said: “It’s a beautiful jersey and we are quite comfortable in it.“We are excited that we were involved in the process when they were designing it. They made 21 different [designs] that we had to choose from.”It is Bafana’s 16th new jersey in the last 11 years, and the team and its fans are hoping it contains a little magic for football’s biggest showpiece.To help build the hype for the World Cup, and to get South African citizens behind the national team, Adidas have made a massive replica of the World Cup jersey, about 60 metres by 48 metres, which can be signed by the country’s citizens. It is meant to reflect their allegiance, along with that of the players.Mike Ntombela of Adidas says the replica jersey is already on sale throughout South Africa. It will retail for R599, while a t-shirt, similar in appearance to the jersey, will sell for R345.The new jersey will be worn for the first time on Saturday, when South Africa and Japan meet in a friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
A computer lab worth R820 000 has been handed over to Masiza High School in Mbaula, Limpopo. Grade 12 pupil Khanyisa Chauke thanks SANParks on behalf of the students and hands over a certificate to Mr Sibiya.(Images: SANParks) MEDIA CONTACTS • William Mabasa SANParks head of public relations and communications +27 12 735 4363 RELATED ARTICLES • New Sanparks educational centre • Free entrance to SA national park • Kruger Park booked out for 2010 • Vultures need our helpMusa M MkalipiA computer laboratory for Masiza High School in Mbaula, Limpopo, worth nearly a million rand; an administration building at Dumisani High School in Cork, Mpumalanga, worth just over two million rand – these are just two of the corporate social investment (CSI) projects of South African National Parks (SANParks).The group’s CSI programmes focus specifically on improving the lives of people neighbouring its wildlife reserves. “In the past, our approach to community development was more of providing access to benefits that accrued from our business,” explained the Kruger National Park’s managing executive, Abe Sibiya. “We have now added the issue of corporate social investment whereby we have begun to provide facilities and resources that can benefit the whole community.”A total of R820 000 ($81 390) was spent on 32 computers as well as the refurbishment of the building in which the computers are kept at Masiza High School. The aim was primarily to benefit the pupils, but also to help the community of Mbaula Ranch as a whole. “The school applied for the project and on the basis that we are today living in the information age, a computer lab was the most appealing to us,” said William Mabase, the head of public relations and communications at SANParks.CSI is not the only way SANParks is promoting education. The organisation introduced its Social Ecology Programme in 1996, which was aimed at creating opportunities for communities that surrounded national parks so that they could also benefit from the parks’ activities. “Since then, communities have been benefiting in many ways, but in 2012, after SANParks adopted a new vision of ‘SANParks connecting to society’, the CSI department was created to give effect to the new vision,” explained Mabase.The aim was to uplift the standard of living of people, especially those in poor communities. According to SANParks, for the next five years its CSI programmes will focus on education through the provision of required infrastructure, libraries, science laboratories, extra classes as well as water tanks. At Dumisani High School, for example, R2.2-million ($21 8383) was donated for the new administration block.Educating the youthFor poor and rural communities, SANParks has pledged to support the implementation of programmes that promote access, benefit sharing, and socio-economic development towards the improvement of communities next to national parks. Environmental education is crucial in this context.SANParks has various programmes in place to teach students and equip them with skills to take care of the environment in which they live that attract more than 170 000 pupils a year. Through its Kudu Green School Initiative (KGSI), for example, students are taught about the significance of climate. KGSI started in 2010 and targets urban areas. These regions are targeted, Sibiya said, because residents here were not exposed to national parks and awareness of conservation. By 2012, SANParks had hosted a total of 22 808 participants, 95% of whom – 21 633 – were students. Numbering 1 175, teachers made up the balance.Seven schools in Gauteng are involved in KGSI at present. They are learning about waste management, food gardening, recycling, water conservation and greening. KGSI is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and is endorsed by the Department of Basic Education.Another programme, Kids in Parks, is a partnership between the national Department of Environmental Affairs, SANParks and Pick n Pay, the second largest supermarket group in South Africa. It provides opportunities for pupils and teachers to use national parks as learning environments. Kids in Parks workshops deal with topics such as environmental ethics on three-day sponsored tours to national parks.Each year, Kids in Parks takes 5 000 children to parks, exposing them to activities such as mountain climbing and horse riding. According to Pick n Pay, the goal of the programme is to broaden the perspectives of under-privileged children by investing in the beauty of the land so that future generations can enjoy a sustainable environment.SANParks also runs the SANParks Social Science Student Support Programme at the University of Pretoria, a multi-year programme that supports tertiary learning and research. Through its own initiatives and support from the National Lottery Distribution Fund, bursaries are offered to students. The programme started in 2011 and focuses on students in the social sciences and heritage conservation fields.
The Nest Learning Thermostat lets homeowners control temperatures remotely via an internet connection, the same feature making automatic software updates possible. But an update in December came with a bug that caused some thermostats to malfunction two weeks later, in some cases turning off the heat in the middle of the night.The New York Times was the first to report the glitch earlier this month, noting that an unknown number of the $249 thermostats went on the fritz. A malfunctioning thermostat could pose serious problems for people who had installed one in a second home where pipes could freeze and burst, The Times noted, or to older or ill people without much tolerance for cold temperatures.The problem stemmed from a software update that the company pushed out in December. It contained a flaw that didn’t start appearing for another two weeks. The company didn’t say how many users were affected, but said the issue has since been resolved for almost all customers.Tempers flared, and customers began posting comments to an online forum, complaining about losing heat.“I guess that there’s some comfort that I’m not the only one with this problem,” one person wrote. “But I’ll be a little bit hysterical — WHAT IS NEST DOING ABOUT IT? It’s the middle of January, and we need heat here in the Northeast. I’ve disconnected from wifi in the hope that there will be enough of a charge to keep the heat going.”Another wrote on January 7, “I have 2 Nests and they both died! Woke up to a 60 degree house with no way to turn the thermostat up manually. Took 4 calls to customer service with a wait time on HOLD of over 2 HOURS! Some of the worst customer service I have experienced with a tech company. The only answer was to restart the unit! And that didn’t work. I should have gotten a Honeywell!” Nest posts reset procedure In a statement posted at its website, Nest said that some thermostats updated to software version 5.1.3 or later “may become unresponsive or may not charge the battery efficiently, causing it to shut down.”Nest suggested that customers recharge and restart the thermostat. If the thermostat was on but running slowly, or if the thermostat could not be controlled, a simple reboot should do the trick. If the thermostat was off and could not be turned back on, the company outlined a nine-step process to set things right.Nick Bilton, the Times reporter who initially wrote about the Nest problem, said that it was part of a larger problem in which smart devices go haywire: wireless fobs for cars that can be bypassed by thieves, wristbands that are supposed to keep track of the user’s heart rate but don’t, and malfunctioning touch pads on entry doors.Bilton said that a clause in the Nest service agreement bars customers from suing the company in the event of a problem. Instead, disputes must go through arbitration.“So,” he wrote, “if a pipe bursts in your home because the thermostat stopped working, or if your grandmother falls ill because the heat shuts off in the middle of the night and she doesn’t have a micro USB cable, you can’t sue.”
Solar also makes a good post-landfill tenantPotential exposure to toxic water or gases can make regulators nervous about building residential projects atop old landfills. Investor uncertainty about building solar farms on old landfills can be an obstacle to solar development as well, SunEdison’s Thomas Leyden told Construction Dive.Still, the idea is proving very appealing. A website called Waste 360 lists proposed or completed photovoltaic (PV) projects in South Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Connecticut. The Boston Globe reports that a federal Superfund site in Billerica, Massachusetts, is now the home of a 6-megawatt PV project. Urban Green Technologies completed the project on 40 acres of the old Shaffer landfill two years ago.The station includes 20,000 PV modules that make enough electricity for about 1,200 homes. The company will pay the town nearly $3 million over 25 years in lieu of taxes, in addition to paying $400,000 in back taxes on the site.“It was a complicated deal to negotiate … several parties were involved,” Town Manager John C. Curran told The Globe. “But the end result is the town is going to realize tax revenue on a site that was previously tax-delinquent and generating no tax revenue for decades.”Projects don’t have to be huge to succeed. Belfast, Maine, for example, became the first community in the state to use a capped landfill for a solar farm when it opened a solar farm facility earlier this year on a 10-acre landfill that closed in 1993. It’s rated at 122 kilowatts — not much by Billerica’s standards, but still enough to generate about $20,000 worth of electricity per year, a 20% offset for the town’s electric bill. Closed landfills, even former Superfund sites, are becoming fair game for developers who use them for projects ranging from residential and commercial developments to solar farms.There are technical challenges, to be sure — settling terrain as buried refuse breaks down, gases given off by the site, and liquid wastes that leach out of the ground — but once engineers find ways around those problems, the landfills can offer new acreage in areas where open space is hard to find.Related Companies, for example, recently won unanimous approval from the Santa Clara, California, City Council for a $6 billion mixed-use development on 40 acres of the city’s landfill, Construction Dive reports. The retail and residential village is part of the 240-acre CityPlace proposed by Related. When complete, CityPlace would include 5.7 million square feet of offices, 1.1 million square feet of retail space, 700 hotel rooms, and 1,360 apartments — the largest private development in Silicon Valley history.Construction could start late in 2017, providing that Related gets the remaining permits it needs.Building high-end projects over old dumps may seem counterintuitive, but there’s nothing unusual about it, says New York attorney Dennis Toft.“Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but, on the flipside, you have these large tracts of land — frequently owned by municipalities or by people who are no longer managing them — that can be very attractive for redevelopment,” he told Construction Dive. Sites present many challengesFrom a sustainable building standpoint, former landfills are ideal sites for new development because they recycle land that’s already been used and allow undeveloped property in the area to stay undeveloped. Still, builders have to solve some difficult engineering problems to make the projects work.One problem is the inherent instability of the ground. As waste decomposes, the ground can settle. If the project atop the landfill is a golf course, that’s not a big problem. But if the developer is putting up office buildings or apartments, engineers must find ways to stabilize the area. The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Related’s Santa Clara project includes construction of an enormous platform over the landfill. Developers will drive deep pilings to support the platform.The fluid that trickles out of a landfill — that is, the leachate — often carries contaminants with it. These contaminants can spoil both the soil and the groundwater. Decomposing garbage also creates gases that seep out of the soil, and these gases can be trapped by a building’s foundation. Developers sometimes have to install a permeable layer of gravel to channel gases away from a building, or install a membrane beneath the building to keep gases out of living spaces.These problems, however, are not insurmountable. Anna Amarandos, who is working on site preparation for the Santa Clara project, told Construction Dive that clients involved in developments of this kind are used to the lengthy timelines that permitting and construction take. “Some of my clients are pretty experienced with complex projects like these,” she said, “and they don’t scare easily.”
‘Degree racket’ busted in Haryana, four arrestedThe Haryana police on Saturday claimed to have busted an inter-State “degree racket” and arrested four men working at a private university in Rajasthan. The accused, who have confessed to their involvement in the scam, sold degrees for graduate and post-graduate courses without a student having to appear in exams, the police said. PTI
While all eyes are on Michelle Obama’s wardrobe during her India visit, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, too, made some style news.Congress chief Sonia Gandhi sported a bright coloured sari during her meeting with US President Barack Obama on Monday.Sitting at the same table as the Obamas at the private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, Sonia tweaked her personal style just a bit to show her appreciation.Sonia may not have been as eclectic and experimental as Michelle, who was dressed in a dazzling black and gold ensemble by Indo-American designer Naeem Khan, but she still managed to create some ripples with her choice of a sari.While no one expected her to wear a gown or something extremely festive, she departed a little bit from her trademark style to show she made an extra effort for the party.Dressed in a midnight blue traditional weave silk sari with a mahogany gold border, one saw her in a colour she has probably never worn before. Even her choice of gold drop earrings is something she isn’t generally associated with. Considering she gave her usual neutrals, pastels, khadi and pearls a miss, which was a noticeable departure from her style.While Michelle is iconic in that she mixes high street labels with high end ones and keeps it constantly innovative, Sonia’s appeal comes from keeping it consistently chic and personal.Her trademark traditional weave saris, kitten heels and neatly done hair have got her a style icon’s tag many a time. She does, however, tweak her granny chic look now and then, when the occasion demands it.advertisementShe is known for her love of Paithani saris and white cotton churidar-kameezes. So the sari, which looked like a kanjeevaram, was quite ‘dressy’ for her. She usually goes for temple designs, ikatweaves and gold threadwork only on rare occasions.