Land Cruisers, blankets and snow

first_imgLesotho’s inhospitable, snow-covered highlands are home to a hardy people who nonetheless battle in the cold. The Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa handed out almost 400 blankets toneedy communities in Lesotho.(Imagse: Kath Fourie) MEDIA CONTACTS • Elmarie de Marillac  Four Wheel Drive Club of SA  +27 861 393 272 RELATED ARTICLES • Riders saving lives in Lesotho • Lesotho lodge a top pick for 2010 • Bikers gear up for Toy Run 2010 • SA comics team up for charity • Wartrail: a winter wonderlandKath FourieAs I walk away from the St James lodge in Mokhotlong region in the remote highlands of Lesotho, the blurred scenes of the day flash through my somewhat frazzled brain.I’ve been snapping pics since 7:30am, travelling through the eastern reaches of the tiny kingdom, which at this time of year is a harsh, dry, bleached, frozen landscape.Stretching my legs while the members of the Land Cruiser Club Southern Africa (LCCSA) sort out who is sleeping where for the night, I come across three tiny girls with shaved heads each wielding a knife. They reach my hip in height and I wonder what they’re up to as they peer between the rockeries of a stone wall.When they see me sneaking up on them there is much giggling and hiding of faces under scrappy blankets, but I soon find out that they’re collecting ‘cabbage’. This turns out to be an assortment of paltry green-yellow leaves, weeds really, which are the only edible things that grow unassisted during the winter.We walk along a little while, and exchange names. It’s a simple interaction, and, I suppose, typical of a white person venturing into these parts. I can’t help but fall in love with Thato; she has the most sticky-out ears and painfully thin body yet carries herself with perfect grace. Eventually I walk on and they hurry back to their homes with the greens for dinner.This is the reality of Lesotho; a country landlocked by South Africa with a population of just over 2-million people, a disturbing HIV rate and a severe lack of employment opportunities. Children are skinny; the people are cold and desperate.The Basotho are a tough nation, make no mistake, but that doesn’t make having so little any easier. This is why we’re here, to hand out blankets to people who drastically need them.Supporting a worthy causeStructural engineer Kelvyn Davidson says: “My dad is a member of the Lions Club of Durban Host and I found out from him about their initiative to collect blankets for those in need this winter. I’m a member of LCCSA and I thought this would be a really worthy cause for us to support.”Davidson is one of the 5 000+ members of the LCCSA. The club has actually been around for a good while, but was formally structured in 2005. It predominantly operates with an online presence, consisting of a website and forum that collectively house one of the world’s biggest banks of information regarding absolutely anything to do with Land Cruisers.Hennie Kotze, a formidable Afrikaner who wears shirt sleeves as we huddle in our scarves and beanies, is one of the club’s volunteer custodians from Gauteng province.“A lot of the money used to buy the blankets came from club members who couldn’t make the actual trip,” he said. “It didn’t take more than a thread on the forum to get this whole thing going. That’s the beauty of the internet these days.”It also doesn’t take much to get a bunch of Land Cruiser enthusiasts on board for a trip to a place with terrible roads, a decent chance of snowfall and plenty of ice.With 100 blankets from the Lions Club of Durban Host and 274 from LCCSA, nine Land Cruisers wind their way up through the frozen dog-legs of the treacherous Sani Pass from KwaZulu-Natal into a frigid Lesotho and on to the Harvesters Hillock church in Mohkotlong.Here we’re greeted by the smiling pastor Ntate Ntsimane, and waste no time in setting out about half the blankets on a plastic tarpaulin next to the church. A crowd of children and women have been hanging around the church since 8 that morning, as they weren’t sure of our expected arrival time.“But look here,” Ntsimane says, lifting his left arm in the air and pulling down his sleeve, “This is Africa, no one wears a watch!”After the feeding scheme dishes out hot samp (made from maize kernels) and beans – which we are all offered, and want, but don’t take because it’s clear there isn’t enough – a short ceremony takes place and the blankets are handed out.Ntsimane tries to check each blanket off against his list of names before it gets too tedious, clearly wanting to make sure we know the blankets are going straight to the people for whom they’re intended.It’s a sentiment that I appreciate, as all too often in any desperate country corruption diverts 90% of goodwill into private pockets. I’m fairly certain that these thrilled kids, receiving blankets from the hands of the more privileged kids of the Land Cruiser families, are getting something they really need.Ntsimane wishes us well, and a good portion of blankets are loaded into the back of his pickup to be driven high up into the remote villages and handed out later. Before we leave he points up to the hills far in the distance and says: “That is where all these people are heading now, they have a far way to go.”My legs feel distinctly lucky as they squish up between two other taller people in the back of a 1990 Land Cruiser 62 series wagon, fondly named Maddy by her owner Warwick Chapman.Chapman’s brother Barry and his father Richard talk Land Cruiser-speak non-stop. I marvel at how much technical jargon they know, and I realise that yes, I may think Land Cruisers look cool; but that’s nowhere near enough to contribute towards to the conversation.I think my final faux pas is accidentally saying, “So how many Land Rovers are there on this trip?” This is greeted first by stunned silence and then shortly followed by a disgusted “None. But there are nine Land Cruisers.” I decide to keep quiet.Making a differenceFast-forward a few hours and I’ve already met the three little foragers from earlier in my story, and we’ve now settled into the basic accommodation at St James mission. Fires blaze inside and out, there is plenty of food and a few sneaky bottles of wine and sherry. It’s pleasant, but everyone is acutely aware of the people living in the pitch black around us. We know the huts are there, filled with families who will face the night without warm sleeping bags and nourishing mutton stew.Hennie stands up, still in shirt sleeves: “I just want to say what a wonderful trip this has been. I felt today, when we arrived at that church with our big, shiny Land Cruisers all in a row, that it might look bad, you know? We are so lucky to have what we have. But I realised as we handed out the blankets that what we were doing was really important.”Hennie’s right; yes, a big shiny Land Cruiser can be seen as a distinct division between a poor Basotho and a comparatively rich South African, but driving from all corners of South Africa to bring people something they need and can’t afford is a fine display of compassion.The temperature in the night drops to -11 ̊C, and tent dwellers wake to ripples of ice formed by the condensation of their breath. We say goodbye and split into two teams, those going out of Lesotho in the north and those heading back into KwaZulu-Natal. On the way we distribute the remainder of the blankets, stopping at villages that look worse off than others.But we begin at the village below St James, and I look around surreptitiously for my three little friends. I’m just heading back to the car when I spy Thato peering from behind a hut. I dash back to grab a blanket from a Cruiser, and Thato looks bewildered when I hand it to her.I fight the urge to bend down and hug her. Thato wouldn’t be pleased with me squeezing her; she is too distinguished for that. Staring up at me, with a look that suggests she thinks I may very well be insane, Thato smiles quizzically. She waves goodbye as we move off, the bulk of the grey blanket highlighting how slim she is. Like a wispy, winter leaf.last_img read more

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31 books every South African should read

first_imgLooking for deeper insight into South Africa? Here are snap reviews of classic South African reads, covering a wide range of books from non-fiction, to fiction and poetry, featuring a range of the country’s greatest novelists, poets, journalists and historians.South Africa has a rich and vibrant history of producing excellent literature. (Image: Pixabay)Brand South Africa reporterClick on the title below to find out more about the book.Non-fictionThe World That Made MandelaLong Walk to FreedomTomorrow is Another CountryA History of South AfricaThe Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902Country of My SkullMy Traitor’s HeartPortraits of PowerNew Babylon/New NinevehCape Town: The Making of a CityMidlandsThree-Letter PlagueThe True Confessions of an Albino TerroristFictionDisgraceCry, The Beloved CountrySelected Stories: Nadine GordimerThe Heart of RednessMafeking Road and Other StoriesWelcome to Our HillbrowFools and Other StoriesA Place Called VatmaarAncestral VoicesA Dry White SeasonZoo CityMoxylandThe Story of an African FarmPoetryThe New Century of South African PoetryVarious Anthologies: Mongane Wally SeroteInside and OutTransferIf I Could Sing: Selected PoemsNon-fictionThe World That Made MandelaBy Luli CallinicosBringing history and geography together, this is a large coffee-table-sized book filled with archival and contemporary images, telling the story of Nelson Mandela and his struggle for South Africa’s freedom through the many places associated with his life. From his birthplace in Qunu to the Old Fort in Johannesburg, where he was held prisoner (and which is now the site of the Constitutional Court), from Soweto to Mpumalanga, the images provide a wonderful historical context for South Africa today, combining to form a unique “heritage trail”.Long Walk to FreedomBy Nelson MandelaThe towering figure of South Africa’s liberation struggle began his autobiography in prison, his pages in tiny writing smuggled out by comrades. When he came out of jail in 1990, and went on to become South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he continued the work, and it is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Mandela, the times he lived through and the war he waged for freedom. He also authorised a biography by Anthony Sampson (see box right), which provides much useful extra information and differing perspectives.Watch the movie trailer here:Tomorrow Is Another CountryBy Allister SparksSparks, a veteran South African journalist and author, also wrote The Mind of South Africa. His account of the transition from apartheid to democracy is one of several, but undoubtedly the best. It describes, from behind the scenes, the process that began with tentative contact between the sworn enemies, moving through the unbanning of the liberation movements and the complex negotiations that led to South Africa’s first fully democratic election in 1994.A History of South AfricaBy Frank WelshThis comprehensive one-volume history of South Africa goes beyond the achievement of democracy to look at the problems facing the new society in the period since Nelson Mandela ended his term as South Africa’s first black president. The book also goes back into South Africa history, and explains the country’s ethnic mix – though it has also been criticised for pro-Afrikaner attitudes. Judge for yourself.The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902By Fransjohan PretoriusBy the end of the 19th century, South Africa was partly a British colony and partly a pair of independent Afrikaner republics. British imperialism and capitalist expansionism meant that the independence of the republic (particularly the gold-rich Transvaal) would come under threat. In 1899, the second Anglo-Boer War, which made the earlier conflict seem negligible, broke out. In some ways, it was the first modern war, one that saw the invention of trench warfare, concentration camps and guerrilla fighting, as the highly organised British army squared up against the motley band of farmer-hunter-soldiers that made up the loose-knit Boer army. It was also a conflict that defined the political future of a united South Africa. Pretorius gives the best outline of the war, focusing on aspects (such as the participation of large numbers of black people) that were hitherto ignored.Country of My SkullBy Antjie KrogThis is a personal and compelling account of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the horrors of apartheid repression, written by the acclaimed Afrikaans poet. Here she writes in English, from the perspective of a radical Afrikaner, of the searing process of confessing apartheid’s sins. A bestseller in South Africa and successful abroad, the book has been reissued with additional material.My Traitor’s HeartBy Rian MalanSubtitled “Blood and Bad Dreams: A South African Explores the Madness in His Country, His Tribe and Himself”, this book was a bestseller in South Africa and elsewhere when it came out in 1990. By a member of one of Afrikanerdom’s leading apartheid families, it goes into the heart of darkness of a country in turmoil. It’s not a pretty picture, but it makes for compelling, sobering reading.Portraits of PowerBy Mark GevisserA collection of Gevisser’s acclaimed columns for the Mail & Guardian, in which he wrote detailed, elegant and psychologically acute profiles of all the key players in the new South Africa, from controversial academic Malegapuru Makgoba to musician-director Mbongeni Ngema, from Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris to filmmaker Anant Singh, from politicians such as Sam (Mbhazima) Shilowa and Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi to soccer star Mark Fish.New Babylon / New NinevehBy Charles van OnselenSubtitled “Everyday Life on the Witwatersrand 1886-1914”, this essential pair of historical studies are now republished in one volume. They examine the era of Johannesburg’s establishment and early growth through social, political and economic lenses to provide a picture of how this great city developed, and what that story has to tell us about South Africa today.Cape Town: The Making of a CityBy Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen and Vivian Bickford-SmithCape Town was South Africa’s first city – some still regard it so. It’s had extraordinary ethnic diversity from the start. Now one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations, the city has a complex history, which is told in this beautiful and engrossing book. It looks at Cape Town in colonial times, under Dutch and then British rule, from the earliest small settlement founded to grow vegetables for passing ships to the brink of the 20th century. A plethora of paintings, maps, drawings and photographs illustrate the book and make it very accessible. (A companion volume, by the same authors, looking at the city today in the same format, is Cape Town in the Twentieth Century: An Illustrated Social History.)MidlandsBy Jonny SteinbergIn the spring of 1999, in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, a young white farmer is shot dead on the dirt road running from his father’s farmhouse to his irrigation fields. The murder is the work of assassins rather than robbers; a single shot behind the ear, nothing but his gun stolen, no forensic evidence is left at the scene. Journalist Jonny Steinberg travels to the midlands to investigate. Steinberg finds that much of the story lies in the immediate future. He has stumbled upon a festering frontier battle. Right from the beginning, it is clear that the young white man is not the only one who will die on that frontier, and that the story of his and other deaths will illuminate a great deal about the early days of post-apartheid South Africa.Three-Letter PlagueBy Jonny SteinbergJonny Steinberg’s groundbreaking work of reportage about pride and shame, sex and death, and the Aids pandemic in Africa is a masterpiece of social observation. In the poor village of Ithanga, in the old Transkei, Steinberg explores the lives of a community caught up in a battle to survive the ravages of HIV/Aids. He befriends Sizwe Magadla, a young local man who refuses to be tested for HIV despite the existence of a well-run testing and anti-retroviral programme. It is this apparent illogic that becomes the key to understanding the dynamics that thread their way through a complex and traditional rural community.The True Confessions of an Albino TerroristBy Breyten BreytenbachBreyten Breytenbach was that most reviled of men, an Afrikaner who betrayed his people to fight apartheid. For this, he was arrested in 1975, tried and sentenced to prison for high treason. This, his memoir of his seven years in jail – two of them in solitary confinement – captures the full horror of life in one of the worst penal systems in the world. It was originally published in 1983. In an afterword to the text, he states that the work “took shape from the obsessive urge I experienced during the first weeks and months of my release to talk, talk, talk, to tell my story and all the other stories”.FictionDisgraceBy JM CoetzeeThe crowning achievement of a distinguished literary career, Disgrace won Coetzee the Booker Prize for the second time, making him the first writer to achieve that distinction – and occasioned much debate within South Africa. It is a bleak but always compelling story of the new South Africa struggling to come to terms with itself, addressing issues of guilt, responsibility, meaning and survival, written in prose of crystalline sharpness. A surprise bestseller in South Africa as well as abroad.Cry, The Beloved CountryBy Alan PatonPerhaps the most famous novel to come out of South Africa, Paton’s 1948 work brought to the notice of the world the dilemmas of ordinary South Africans living under an oppressive system, one which threatened to destroy their very humanity. Informed by Paton’s Christian and liberal beliefs, the novel tells of a rural Zulu parson’s heart-breaking search for his son, who has been drawn into the criminal underworld of the city. Cry, The Beloved Country has sold millions of copies around the world.See the movie trailer here:Selected StoriesBy Nadine GordimerWinner of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature, Gordimer was for decades South Africa’s literary conscience. Her stories are perhaps the best introduction to her work: they span the 1950s to the 1990s in this volume (British edition), moving from the city to the countryside and from the highest ranks of society to the lowest. With delicacy and power, they cast a bright light on the extraordinary lives led by South Africans of all races, and the nature of their interactions across colour lines and within them.The Heart of RednessBy Zakes MdaMda came to prominence as a dramatist in the 1970s; now he has flourished as a novelist. This, his second novel, won the 2001 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, and has become a school setwork. Weaving together two strands of storytelling, the novel moves between the past and the present. In the past is the narrative of Nongqawuse, the 19th century prophetess whose visions brought a message from the ancestors and took her people to the brink of extermination. In the present time, 150 years later, a feud that dates back to the days of Nongqawuse still simmers in the village of Qolorha as it faces the demands of modernity.>Mafeking Road and Other StoriesBy Herman Charles BosmanIn an edition published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first publication, this collection is a South African classic. In the voice of the sly old bushveld storyteller Oom Schalk Laurens, Bosman tells tales of a rural Afrikaner South Africa that has long since vanished – yet the unique flavour and wry humour of the stories remain undiminished.Welcome to Our HillbrowBy Phaswane MpePhaswane Mpe’s first novel (shortlisted for the 2002 Sunday Times Fiction Prize) is a variation on what was known as the “Jim Comes to Joburg” theme in South African literature. A man leaves his rural home in the north and comes to the big city to find a new life. What he finds is a dangerous but vital inner city, epitomised by Hillbrow, the flat-land in the centre of Johannesburg where the well-heeled no longer set foot – the “city of gold, milk, honey and bile”. This is the land of drug deals, xenophobia, violence, sex and Aids, and this novel is an uncompromising look at the reality of the new South Africa as it affects the poorest of the urban population. It is also a story of love, survival and hope.Fools and Other StoriesBy Njabulo NdebeleNdebele is a noted academic and critic as well as a writer of fiction. In this work, he carries out the brief argued in his essay “Rediscovery of the Ordinary”, returning the gaze of the reader to the very human lives of township people and forgoing the rhetoric of political struggle, though that background is not ignored. His characters deal with the generation gap and the formative experiences of childhood in these warmly perceptive stories.A Place Called VatmaarBy AHM ScholtzThe author came to literature late in life, but was hailed as the “Steinbeck of the coloured South African platteland” – and produced a bestseller that has now been translated all over the world. His novel, which is very close to actual history, tells the story of a village inhabited mostly by “coloureds”, the mixed-race people of the Cape, from its earliest beginnings. The various characters of the village’s history speak, telling their stories from their own perspectives to create a portrait of a whole community.Ancestral VoicesBy Etienne van HeerdenIn its original Afrikaans, titled Toorberg, Van Heerden’s novel won all the prizes going in South Africa in the year it was published. It draws on the tradition of the plaasroman (farm novel), and transforms it at the same time, to tell the riveting transgenerational story of a family entangled with its ghosts – both living and dead. An utterly compelling read.>A Dry White SeasonBy Andre BrinkThis novel by one of South Africa’s most prolific authors, set in the 1970s, brought the issue of deaths in detention to the notice of many who would rather have not known about it. When a white South African investigates the death of a black friend in police custody, he uncovers the brutal truth about apartheid South Africa. An interesting companion volume would be Cry Freedom, Donald Woods’ non-fiction account of his friendship with Bantu Steve Biko, the Black Consciousness leader murdered in custody by police.Zoo CityBy Lauren BeukesIn 2010, Lauren Beukes won the Kitschies Red Tentacle Award for her phantasmagorical Zoo City; the following year, she won the Arthur C Clarke Award for the novel, a hardboiled thriller about crime, magic, the music industry, refugees and redemption, set in a re-imagined Johannesburg. People who have committed a crime are magically attached to an animal familiar; the chief protagonist, Zinzi December, is “animalled” to a sloth after getting her brother killed. Zinzi is attempting to repay the financial debt she owes her drug dealer. It’s a wild, fantastical ride.MoxylandBy Lauren BeukesPublished in 2008, Moxyland is a cyberpunk novel set in a future Cape Town. It is a dystopian, corporate-apartheid political thriller in which cellphones are used for social control. Narrated by four different characters, each chapter focuses on one of the narrators and her or his own experience living under an oppressive and pervasive government and media. Through her characters, Beukes illustrates a society where technology rules with an iron fist and in doing so shows the limitations of freedom.The Story of an African FarmBy Olive SchreinerThe Story of an African Farm, published in 1883 under the pseudonym Ralph Iron, has become recognised as one of the first feminist novels. It details the lives of three characters, first as children and then as adults – Waldo, Em and Lyndall – who live on a farm in the Karoo. The story is set in the middle- to late-nineteenth century. The book is semi-autobiographical: in particular, the two principal protagonists (Waldo and Lyndall) display strong similarities to Schreiner’s life and philosophy. Although it quickly became a best-seller when it was first published, it caused some controversy over its frank portrayal of freethought, feminism, premarital sex and pregnancy out of wedlock, as well as transvestitism.PoetryThe New Century of South African PoetryEdited by Michael ChapmanThis anthology is the ultimate overview of South African poetry, reaching from its earliest manifestations in the oral culture of the land’s indigenous inhabitants to the complexities of post-apartheid verse. It includes translations from the country’s many languages, discovering hitherto hidden voices as well as placing in context the best-known names of our rich poetic heritage.Various AnthologiesBy Mongane Wally SeroteWally Serote’s work goes back to the 1970s, with his coruscating portraits of life as a black person in South Africa in those days. This volume from this winner of the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa is a single long poem, driven forward by incantatory rhythms, addressed to a people just emerging from the horrors of oppression and now awakening to a new dawn.Inside and OutBy Jeremy CroninBringing together the work from Cronin’s two collections, Inside and Even the Dead, this volume is a comprehensive view of one of South Africa’s most popular poets. As a South Africa Communist Party member, Cronin’s first poems were the result of his incarceration by the apartheid regime, and Inside became possibly South Africa’s best-selling work of poetry. With irony, compassion, honesty and a firm commitment to justice for all, Cronin’s accessible poems speak about a wide range of South African experience.TransferBy Ingrid de KokThis second volume by the acclaimed Cape Town poet registers the sea-changes that have taken place in our society, but through the sensitive and exact lyric voice of one dealing with memory, grief, love and motherhood: “the ladder of light / sent down from land above / where hands write words / to work the winch / to plumb the shaft below”.If I Could Sing: Selected PoemsBy Keorapetse KgositsileAn African National Congress stalwart who spent many years in exile, Keorapetse Kgositsile is the author of the famous lines: “Need I remind /anyone again that /armed struggle /is an act of love”. His work over many years, collected in this volume from several books, brings together the historical imperatives of the struggle against apartheid with related personal concerns in free-flowing, imaginative verse.Updated 3 February 2016Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

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Anthony Wayne FFA makes testimony at House committee meeting

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Ohio House of Representatives Agriculture & Rural Development Committee met on August 26th at the Shisler Center on the Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) campus.The committee met to hear testimonies regarding agricultural education from people across Ohio.Whitney Short, agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor at Anthony Wayne High School, was asked to give a testimony. She covered current happenings in Ohio agricultural education, Anthony Wayne’s specific program growth, and issues facing this specific area of education – such as the shortage of agriculture teachers.Following her testimony, the members of the committee asked questions to gain more information about the issues mentioned. Chapter Reporter Marleigh Kerr and Anthony Wayne FFA Parent Karen Kerr attended the hearing and also answered questions asked by the representatives.“I really enjoyed going to speak to this committee; it gave me a unique experience on what goes on in the committee,” said Marleigh of her experience. “I also enjoyed being able to give the committee a unique perspective into an FFA member’s life.”last_img read more

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Just when England rugby needs clarity the waters have been muddied

first_imgThe big problem with coaching England, believes Eddie Jones, is the media. In a nutshell they ask too many questions. “Anywhere else you do the press conference for about five minutes and then you are done. Here it is two hours of non-stop questioning.” It partially explains, apparently, why he is now naming co-captains who can take turns feeding the daily news beast.Nice try, Eddie, but what a load of old cobblers. Share via Email Topics England rugby union team Share on LinkedIn Dai Young calls for overhaul after ‘ridiculous’ ban for Nathan Hughes Opportunity, either way, knocks for the unsung Devonian Moon, one of Exeter’s ‘Originals’ from their Championship days, and the fast‑rising Worcester forward Ted Hill, whom Jones compares to a young Richard Hill. And even if it all fails to knit together immediately, insists Jones, England can still win the 2019 World Cup.“If they come and tap me on the shoulder tomorrow and tell me ‘you’re not in the job’, then so be it,” Jones said. “But what I do know about World Cups, and this will be my fourth, is that the only time you need to be at your best is at the tournament itself. All the leading up to it is sparring. Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t tell you you’re moving forward.”Perhaps but the question marks hanging over England this autumn are genuine enough. The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. Support The Guardian Try captaining India at cricket, managing the Brazil football team or coaching a losing All Blacks XV. And what is so fundamentally awful about talking into a microphone anyway? Is Jones really saying English rugby’s leading figures should simply communicate with their public via brief pre-written statements or in bland words of one syllable? If so, the Rugby Football Union and its sponsors would be first in the queue to put him straight.The other sizeable flaw in Jones’s argument is that, currently, his England set-up is one huge question mark. The public remain confused as to why he still refuses to select certain individuals – Danny Cipriani, Don Armand, Alex Goode – who continually rate among the Premiership’s most in-form and influential players. They badly want reassurance that key combinations in crucial areas of the team – front row, back row, half-back, midfield – will be settled before the World Cup in Japan next year. And above all they want to know if England will be reborn next month or are destined to under-perform, relative to their resources, for a third World Cup in a row.Which brings us to Jones’s 36-man squad for the autumn series. At first glance it does not encourage blind faith given the enforced absence of so many injured or unavailable forwards. The Vunipola brothers, Joe Launchbury, Chris Robshaw, Nathan Hughes, Joe Marler, Sam Simmonds … at loosehead prop and at No 8 England’s cupboard is as depleted as it has been in years. If the two Bens – Moon and Morgan – start against South Africa on 3 November it will be as much a surprise to them as anyone else.With Ben Te’o and the recalled Chris Ashton having yet to play a single minute of league rugby this season, and Manu Tuilagi still feeling his way back to full fitness, an air of uncertainty also hangs over some pivotal individuals. Even Jones admits he will not know if Tuilagi and Te’o can manage 80 minutes of Test rugby until they report for training duty in Portugal next week.Dan Robson’s ankle injury has forced Jones to turn, once more, to the veteran Richard Wigglesworth at scrum-half, and whichever back-row trio he chooses will have precious few caps and have played even fewer minutes together.No wonder the media were queuing up at Twickenham to fire questions at Jones. Is the shared captaincy, for example, less about shared responsibility – “They’ll hold hands when they run out,” quipped the head coach – and more about the fact Dylan Hartley will seldom be on the field in the all-important final quarter of games? Which of the pair will liaise with the referee or order a shot at goal in the first instance? At precisely the moment England need clarity, the waters have been muddied for players and fans alike. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Twitter Since you’re here… Read more Eddie Jones splits captaincy between Dylan Hartley and Owen Farrell Eddie Jones Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest Reuse this content Rugby union features Read more South Africa rugby team Autumn internationals Jones does, of course, deserve some degree of sympathy. As he observed, while waving his reshuffled squad list above his head, “these are the cards I’ve been dealt”. But where is the consistency in lamenting the absence of 300‑plus caps of experience up-front and not picking the seasoned Dan Cole and Dave Attwood? Had he promoted the deserving Armand a year ago, might he have averted some of the angst he is now facing? And what message is being sent to every English-qualified player in the country when Cipriani is steadfastly ignored against all recent evidence? If England under‑perform against the Springboks and New Zealand in their opening two November Tests, Jones can hardly expect the entire nation simply to shrug its shoulders.On the brighter side, with Ashton back and Elliot Daly potentially at 15, there is no shortage of back‑three class. If Farrell, as Jones has been hinting, does start at 10, the Saracens man will finally be operating in his best position. And if Michael Rhodes – “when he hits, he hurts” – and the New Zealand-reared Brad Shields are as potentially influential as the head coach keeps insisting, a Springboks pack also lacking several integral cogs should still, if nothing else, expect a physical rattle. With Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes and, maybe, a fully firing Tuilagi in their lineup, England will not be as underpowered as their injury list might suggest. Share on Messenger Share on Facebooklast_img read more

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Rep Bizon says M66 project part of states dedication to roads

first_img Legislator: Coming budget has record transportation spending Categories: Bizon News,News 07Aug Rep. Bizon says M-66 project part of state’s dedication to roadscenter_img State Rep. Dr. John Bizon today said a road project starting next week to make a portion of M-66 in Battle Creek safer is another example of the importance the Legislature has placed on repairing and maintaining the state’s transportation system.Bizon, of Battle Creek, said the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will begin work Monday on 2.7 miles of M-66 from D Drive South to Glenn Cross Road. The $547,000 project includes resurfacing the road, lengthening the southbound right-turn lane at Glenn Cross Road, and joint and crack repairs.“This will make the road smoother and safer for families as well as business traffic,” Bizon said. “Currently southbound cars and trucks have a very short right-turn lane from Glenn Cross Road, which MDOT said is an ongoing safety concern. Lengthening the turn lane will ease traffic congestion as well.”Bizon said more projects such as this will take place throughout the state in the coming fiscal year.“The Legislature made repairing roads, bridges and underground water systems a priority, and the budget for the coming fiscal year has more money than ever before in the state’s history dedicated to fixing our transportation system,” said Bizon, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. “At nearly every meeting I attend or office hours I conduct, the issue of our crumbling roads and bridges is raised. We listened to your concerns and are taking action moving forward.”Bizon said the project will continue through October and one lane of M-66 will remain open with flag control directing traffic flow. In addition to improving safety, Bizon said the new asphalt surface will extend the life of the road by up to 10 years.“The Legislature is also demanding stronger warranties to make sure the money is not being wasted on projects that require repaving a few years down the road,” Bizon said. “We are careful to get the most out of every tax dollar entrusted to us to maintain roads and bridges.”#####last_img read more

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LaSata introduces Green Alert to help atrisk veterans

first_img Categories: LaSata News,News State Rep. Kim LaSata, R- Bainbridge Township, last week introduced legislation to ensure the public has timely information regarding missing or at-risk veterans near their area.“Our military adheres to a ‘no man left behind’ code on the battlefield. It should be no different when those service members are back home.” LaSata said. “Our veterans have served and sacrificed on behalf of our great nation. If one is missing or at-risk, we should waste no time until that hero is home safe.”Under Rep. LaSata’s measure, the Michigan State Police would establish and maintain a system called a “Green Alert.” Similar to “Amber Alerts,” a “Green Alert” would help veterans who are missing and may be suffering from service-related physical or mental health stress issues, but do not meet the criteria of “critically missing.”The framework of the system, as specified in the bill, will be to rapidly disseminate information in an efficient, effective manner to radio, television, and other mass communication devices, such as cell phones and tablets.“This operates like a traditional Amber Alert system,” LaSata said. “The state police will use the quickest means possible to spread awareness while they work to locate our service member.”House Bill 6264 has been referred to the Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs for further consideration.### 19Jun LaSata introduces “Green Alert” to help at-risk veteranslast_img read more

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