The headquarters of the country’s two main political parties tell the tale of two cities. Workmen are now putting in place the final touches to a stage, which has been setup in the streets in front the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Old Hope Road headquarters. “This is a facility for the party leader to acknowledge the outcome of the elections,” Alston Stewart, one of the PNP’s campaign team leaders, told The Gleaner. The PNP stage has been set on a massive movable flat truck and is adorned with a banner of PNP president Portia Simpson Miller as the backdrop. The stage at Belmont Road, however, has already been set. Unlike the one at the PNP’s base, the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) setup is small and simple. And there is no fancy banner in the background. Belmont Road is the base of the JLP. The JLP’s stage has been placed in the yard of its headquarters, unlike the PNP, which has taken over a section of the street. Jamaicans have been voting in the country’s 17th general election since 7:00 a.m. today. Polls will close at 5:00 pm, after which the counting of ballots will take place.
The Deputy Minister of Sport & Recreation: Mr Gert OosthuizenThe Director General of Sport & Recreation: Alec MoemiLeaders of Federations who have joined usMembers of the MediaLadies & Gentlemen On the 18 of February 2019 the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CSA) will hear the matter between International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Athletics South Africa and Caster Semenya. Our history as a nation was in the main based on the defence of our people against their human rights violation, a right to belong, that all humans are created equal. Therefore as South African government we have a direct interest in the proceedings and outcome of this case. This interest is informed by our historical stance as a nation towards human rights and also if the proposed regulations go unchallenged will have a negative impact to our Golden Girl, Caster Semenya. What’s at stake here is far more than the right to participate in a sport. Women’s bodies, their wellbeing, their ability to earn a livelihood, their very identity, their privacy and sense of safety and belonging in the world, are being questioned. This is a gross violation of internationally accepted standards of human rights law.The IAAF introduced rules and regulations governing eligibility for females with hyperandrogenism to compete in women competition for the first time in 2011.The purpose of these Regulations was to determine Eligibility classification of female athletes with the hyperandrogenism to participate in the female athletics categories and the conditions under which they would be allowed to compete.The adverse effects of these Regulations were seen in 2014 when Duntee Chand, a sprinter from India was suspended from participating in international competition after hormone testing reportedly revealed that her body produced excessive natural levels of testosterone.She challenged these Regulations at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CSA) arguing that they are unlawfully discriminating against some female athletes on the basis of a natural characteristic of unusual natural genetic trait, even if that trait confers an advantage over fellow female athletes who do not have a trait.Subsequently the Regulations were suspended by CSA and Ms. Chand was allowed to compete again, while the IAAF was instructed to produce a scientific evidence that will support their thesis of causality between female testosterone levels and their performance, and report back in two years, and that was 2017.Instead of bringing compelling evidence as per the directive of the Court, the IAAF instead introduced new Hyperandrogenism Regulations in 2018, which amplified the previous 2011 Regulations.In terms of this new Regulations a female with hyperandrogenism who is recognised as a female in law shall be eligible to compete in women competitions in athletics provided that she has androgen level below that of a male, specifically their natural levels of testosterone must be below 5 Nanomoles Per Litre.Moreover, the new Regulations are only applicable to 400m to mile, including 400m, hurdle races, 800m and 1500m, the categories wherein coincidentally Caster Semenya participate and generally dominates. The logic as to why Regulations were restricted to these categories is still unclear, thus compelling us, as a country, to suspect they are targeted to our very own daughter of the soil, who is the reigning world champion in the 400m and 800m track.These Regulations have drawn criticism from organizations and eminent individuals in various sectors including human rights, medical science, sport and sports law both here at home and abroad. The critics have elevated a point that the Regulations are discriminatory and violates fundamental and international human rights, including a right to physical and bodily integrity, the right to freedom from torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and harmful practices.As a South African government, we have added our voice in condemnation of these Regulations mainly as a matter of principle as a country that respect and promote human rights and also in support of an application lodged by Athletic South Africa (ASA) at CAS challenging these regulations because they appear to be specifically targeting Caster Semenya.Through our department of Sport and Recreation we have established a high-level panel consisting of the Medical and Legal work-streams respectively. This panel consists of experts in both medical and legal fraternities who constitute the respective work streams. There is a third work stream constituted by the departmental personnel and its mandate is to raise public awareness and mobilise public support on the discriminatory nature of these regulations.Work in all the streams has commenced and the high-level panel have prepared a formidable case based on legal and medical data collected, and the Legal Team will appear before CAS to present the case in support of the case lodged by both Athletic South Africa (ASA) and Ms. Caster Mokgadi Semenya. The third government stream has also started with its work, which primarily focus on mobilization of public and international support for the ASA and Caster Semenya cases, and condemnation of the Regulations, both their letter and spirit.Ladies and gentlemen – our media colleagues, sporting fraternity, international human rights platforms and human rights advocates – it is important to take a moment to reflect on what these regulations truly mean for the little girl growing up in an African village with dreams of becoming a top sports woman. These regulations have the potential to deprive the world from seeing and experiencing the natural superiority of future athletes to come from our African soils. Ms. Semenya put it so well when she said and I quote: “It’s not about me anymore. It’s about the African girls who come from the rural areas who do not believe that they can do this…”It is for this reason that we honour AND declare the GREATNESS OF CASTER SEMENYA!I must thank the sporting community who have raised their hands in support, this includes our Federations.As government we urge you media- as voice of the people to partner with us in this campaign of declaring that #NaturallySuperior. The campaign will target various sectors of local and global community and through proper channels engage Human Rights organizations and eminent persons locally and internationally in an effort to ensure that the whole world condemn these Regulations as a gross violation human right. The World once declared Apartheid as a crime against human right, we once more call people of the World to stand with us as we fight what we believe is a gross violation of human right.As a girl from Rural Limpopo Caster continue teaching us that we can overcome adversity, that role models can come in the least expected places, that through resilience you can be a beacon of hope. I want to borrow the words of another great athletes who has faced similar challenges in her career, Ms Serena Williams “Think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles and being made fun of or called unattractive.” We therefore encourage every individual, organization and sector intolerant of discrimination, violation of human rights, particularly of women, and injustice to join and add their voice to this movement that condemn these discriminatory IAAF Regulations which in their nature seek to unfairly exclude other sections of society from competing in sport.To Caster, please remember Tata Mandela when he said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” We have no doubt that in no time Caster will be rising our flag in glory as she do what she does best, collecting medals.With this mobilisation campaign of NaturallySuperior – we honour AND declare the GREATNESS OF WOMEN – We pronounce thatLet women have the freedom to be women IN OUR SPORTING SOCIETY,Let women have the right to participate in this society’s sporting platforms which does NOT judge their genderLet women’s sporting performance and resultant greatness not be questioned NOR doubted.
The Uttarakhand government will ensure that the wildlife at Corbett National Park is not harmed with the construction of the Kandi road which passes through it.The Kandi road project which will pass through the national park will reduce the distance between Garhwal and Kumaon by around 70 km.“The government is trying to find a solution to the Kandi road project issue by which the safety of wildlife is ensured while keeping the convenience of people in mind,” Uttarakhand Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat said.In the wake of wildlife activists submitting a petition to the state government to stop the road project, he said the project will be completed keeping all the aspects in mind.With the construction of the Kandi road, the route from Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal to Ramnagar in Kumaon will be shortened from present 162 km to about 90 km.The Supreme Court had ordered the Public Works Department of the Uttarakhand government to prepare a new alignment of the project.“We will present the new proposal in the court soon,” he added.
Mount Abu, the lone hill station in the desert State of Rajasthan, made headlines this week when it recorded the highest-ever rainfall on a single day. Torrential rain has been wreaking havoc in south-western parts of the State, leading to floods and devastation. The popular hill spot was cut off, and about 1,500 tourists, mostly from Gujarat, were stranded for several days.What happened?Mount Abu is situated at an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level on a rocky plateau of the Aravalli Hills, in Sirohi district, bordering Gujarat. Often referred to as an ‘oasis in the desert,’ the route to Mount Abu passes through the Abu Road town on the plains, from where the hill station is 28 km away. After continuous rain for several days, the hill town received an unprecedented 770 mm of rain on July 24, inundating low-level areas between the hills and creating panic among locals. Streams of water flowed with a ferocity not seen before, as roads were submerged and people were forced to remain indoors.Does it get heavy rainfall?During five days since Sunday, Mount Abu received a whopping 2,116 mm rainfall, breaking all previous records. According to the meteorological department’s data for 1901-2000, the average annual rainfall at the hill station is 1,554.2 mm. The average rain during the monsoon months of July and August every year has been registered at 573.2 mm and 600.3 mm, respectively. Amid the heavy rain, life was thrown out of gear and the supply of essential items was hit because of floods at adjoining places such as Pali, Jalore and other parts of Sirohi district. Telephone, cellular phone and Internet services went down, while the prices of commodities of daily use shot up.How did it impact the town?Two anicuts on the outskirts of Mount Abu and the famous Nakki Lake situated at the centre of the town were overflowing with rainwater. While markets and offices remained shut for most part of the week, all schools and colleges were closed as a precautionary measure. Medical staff at the local government hospital were asked to cancel leave, as there was a fear of outbreak of diseases after the water receded. Heavy rain sent boulders hurtling down on the Abu Road-Mount Abu road, 6 km from the entry toll booth. As a result, Mount Abu’s contact with the rest of the district was cut off. The road was cleared on Thursday with the help of excavators and stone crackers. Over the weekend, vehicles were moving at a snail’s pace at the site of the landslide. Heavy vehicles were asked to stay away as a major crack had developed on the road. The administration has asked travellers to exercise caution in view of the possibility of rocks falling from a height.Why does it need protection?Mount Abu is a popular destination, especially among tourists from Gujarat. More than 30 lakh domestic and international tourists visit the hill station every year. The highest peak is Guru Shikhar, situated 5,650 feet above the sea level. The oldest mountain ranges of Aravalli are home to rivers, lakes, waterfalls and evergreen forests. The forests of Mount Abu were declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1980, covering 290 sq. km of the mountain. It has rich flora and fauna.It has sub-tropical thorn forests in the foothills and sub-tropical evergreen forests along the water courses and valleys at higher altitudes. A variety of rare and endangered species of animals are found here, and the leopard is the apex predator. As environmentalists describe the unusually high rainfall in Mount Abu as a fallout of global warming, the popular hill station will need to protect its rich vegetation of coniferous trees and flowering shrubs in order to maintain its cool climate.