The US Small Business Administration announced today that a recovery center will open at the Brattleboro Development Credit Center inBrattleboro on Tuesday, October 11 at 8 a.m. to assist individuals and businesses affected by Hurricane Irene.”Due to the amount of physical and economic losses caused by Hurricane Irene in Vermont, we want to make it more convenient for victims to get assistance by opening a SBA recovery center. Survivors can meet individually with SBA representatives and find out how a low-interest disaster loan can help them recover,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta. The Center is located in the following community and open as indicated:Windham CountyBrattleboro Development Credit Corporation76 Cotton Mill Hill, 2nd FloorBrattleboro, VT 05301Opens: Tuesday, October 11, 2011Hours: 8 a.m. ‘ 5 p.m., Monday through Friday,until further notice. Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.For small businesses, and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.Interest rates are as low as 2.5 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.Individuals and businesses unable to visit one of the Centers may obtain information on loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail). Loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA website at www.sba.gov(link is external) . Completed applications should be returned to one of the Centers or mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. Those affected by the disaster may also apply for disaster loans electronically from SBA’s website athttps://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/(link is external).The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is October 31, 2011. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 1, 2012. For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit www.sba.gov(link is external).SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration ATLANTA, Oct. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —
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Eureka >> Two goals from a star player and a stingy defense led by a backup goalie helped the St. Bernard’s Crusaders girl’s soccer team hold off the South Fork Cubs for a nail-biting 2-1 first round playoff win on Wednesday at St. Bernard’s Academy. Midfielder Makenna Schoenhofer scored both goals to lead the Crusaders, which had to hold on as the Cubs made a furious push to try to net the equalizer late in the game.“A 2-0 lead is definitely dangerous, especially coming just after …
Octovia Kebareng Maditse taking an HIVtest at the World Aids Day event in Pretoria. The new campaign to encourage all SouthAfricans to get tested for HIV. President Jacob Zuma addressing thenation on World Aids Day.(Images: Bongani Nkosi)MEDIA CONTACTS• Vusi MagwenyaPresident’s spokesperson+27 12 300 5315+27 82 835 6315Bongani NkosiSouth Africa entered a new era in the fight against HIV/Aids on 1 December, as President Jacob Zuma introduced a radical plan to boost protection of affected individuals and prevent further infections.Zuma’s announcement at a World Aids Day event in Pretoria focused on fast-tracking the distribution of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in the country – a move praised by the Treatment Action Campaign lobby group and the South African National Aids Council, which makes HIV/Aids policy recommendations to government.Under the new plan, ARVs will be made available to HIV-positive South Africans with a CD4 cell count of 350, as opposed to the current qualifier of a CD4 count of 200 or less. Experts say that by starting treatment earlier, chances of success are higher and people can live longer.A CD4 cell count indicates the strength of a person’s immune system, and helps determine how advanced the HIV infection is and predict the risk of complications.Normal CD4 counts in adults range from 500 to 1 200, but when a person has HIV his or her count slowly decreases. ARVs help the body build up its CD4 count which, in turn, help fight against opportunist infections.Zuma also said that tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/Aids “will now be treated under one roof” instead of patients having to travel to different centres, and those with both illnesses will receive ARVs when their CD4 count is 350, not 200.“This policy change will address early reported deaths arising from undetected TB infection among those who are infected with HIV,” the president said at the event, which was attended by thousands of South Africans and many international dignitaries.TB is a prime example of opportunistic disease and government’s new approach is significant because the co-infection rate among affected South Africans is as high as 73%, Zuma added.The plan also focuses on curbing mortality among infants who test positive for HIV at birth. Zuma announced that all such babies under one year of age will now receive ARV treatment.In this case “initiating treatment will not be determined by the level of CD4 cells,” he said. “This decision will contribute significantly towards the reduction of infant mortality over time.”HIV-positive pregnant women will also now be eligible for ARVs when their CD4 count is 350 or when they start showing symptoms. Presently such women can only access treatment if their CD4 count is 200 or less, Zuma said.In addition, symptom-free HIV-positive pregnant with a CD4 count above 350 will be put on treatment at 14 weeks to reduce the chance of mother-to-child transmission. “In the past treatment was only started during the last term of pregnancy,” he added.At the event US Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips announced that his country will donate R900-million (about US$123-million) to broaden access to ARVs in South Africa over the next two years.Dramatic shiftDuring his address Zuma emphasised the shift in government’s HIV/Aids policies from those of his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki.After Mbeki became president in 1999 he increasingly argued that HIV was not the cause of Aids and that ARVs were not an effective treatment option, which caused an uproar locally and abroad.His approach was supported by then Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who also incurred international condemnation for promoting herbal remedies as a viable alternative to ARVs. This had a severe impact on the national treatment programme and roll-out of ARV drugs.Government’s stance changed dramatically when Kgalema Motlanthe replaced Mbeki as an interim president in 2008, and Barbara Hogan became the new minister of health, immediately prioritising HIV/Aids by launching a comprehensive treatment and prevention campaign.When Zuma became president in May 2009 and Aaron Motsoaledi replaced Hogan, this positive trend continued.On 1 December Zuma called for the “depoliticisation” of the HIV/Aids debate. “Let there be no more shame, no more blame, no more discrimination and no more stigma,” he said. “Let the politicisation and endless debates about HIV and Aids stop.”Government’s new plan will be effective from April 2010 and it will work towards increasing the number of treatment centres across the country.“Institutions are hard at work to ensure that systems are in place by the 31st of March,” the president said.The policy shifts mean that “we will be treating significantly larger numbers of HIV-positive patients. It means that people will live longer and more fulfilling lives,” Zuma said. “But it does not mean that we should be irresponsible in our sexual practices.“It does not mean that people do not have to practice safer sex. It does not mean that people should not use condoms consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter.”A campaign for changeGovernment also launched the “I am responsible” campaign at the event. Motsoaledi described it as a “massive” drive that will spread awareness about the epidemic, which has resulted in the death of more than 2.5-million South Africans over the last decade.The campaign’s main goal is to encourage as many South Africans as possible to get tested for HIV. “Every South African should know his or her HIV status,” Zuma said.The president announced that he’s made plans to be tested for HIV as part of the new campaign, even though he was tested recently. “I urge you to start planning for your own tests,” he said. Results are always confidential.“All South Africans should take steps to ensure that they do not become infected, that they do not infect others and that they know their status.”Zuma urged young people to be more responsible, saying the future belongs to them. “Be responsible and do not expose yourself to risks. We can eliminate the scourge of HIV if all South Africans take responsibility for their actions.”Encouraging responseThe South Africa National Aids Council (Sanac) commended government’s commitment. “We can change behaviour if we reach out to every person in South Africa,” said Sanac deputy chairperson Mark Heywood. “I believe that starting from today, with the leadership of government, we will defeat HIV.”The Treatment Action Campaign also welcomed government’s announcement. “The changes to the treatment guidelines are all based on strong medical evidence and will significantly reduce mortality,” it said in a statement.Hundreds of young people queued up to be tested at the event. New Start, one of the centres, tested more than 50 people within six hours, according to programme manager Ncamsile Nhlabathi.“People will respond positively to this new campaign. It shows that they do want to get tested,” she said.Octovia Kebareng Maditse from Pretoria was among those who got tested. “I wanted to know my status. I feel free now that I know,” she said.
12 August 2014South Africa, and the continent as a whole, benefited immensely from the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit held in Washington last week, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Tuesday.“By and large, there are a lot of positive things we gained from the summit,” Davies told reporters in Pretoria. “The message from all of us was that the African continent needs to industrialise, and there were a lot of echoes in that regard.”Davies said the major victory from the summit was the commitment by US President Barack Obama to support the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa), along with his announcement of investments in Africa to the tune of US$33-billion through the Doing Business in Africa programme.More than 40 African heads of state, including President Jacob Zuma, attended the summit, which focused on peace and security as well as trade between Africa and the world’s economic giant.On the renewal of Agoa, Minister Davies said the summit provided an indication that the US believed a lengthy re-authorisation of Agoa was justified.“They are looking at possibilities of improving Agoa. They said they are looking at the eligibility criteria … They are looking at countries that did not qualify … I think that was the message from our side that was pretty good news.”Congress is scheduled to vote on the renewal of Agoa, whose current term expires in next year. Obama last week said he was confident that Congress would back the renewal of the scheme, which enables eligible sub-Saharan African countries to export most products duty-free to the United States.South Africa is the only country that makes extensive use of the tariff trade preferences provided by the US through Agoa and other schemes.Meanwhile, Davies said there were a lot of partnerships that South Africa can build with Hollywood studios to grow the local film industry. The minister paid a visit to Hollywood during a stopover in Los Angeles last week, visiting Disney and 20th Century Fox, among other big names in the film industry.Source: SAnews.gov.za
Villagers of Bharala in the Neem ka Thana region of the Sikar district found a novel way of registering their protest against the mine operators in the area by burning their banners in the customary pyre of Holi festivities. While celebrating Holi, residents of the village gave vent to their anger and narrated the hardships faced by them due to mining activities.The Neem ka Thana region has witnessed confrontations between villagers and mine operators over the years, with the latter allegedly attacking the local residents and activists. Activists allege that the accused are politically connected.On Sunday, villagers decorated the Holi pyre with banners containing the pledge to fight against the mine operators. As the pyre of wood and cow dung cakes caught fire, villagers raised slogans such as ‘Avaidh khanan murdabad’ (‘down with illegal mining’), ‘Prashasan maun kyon?’ (‘why is the administration silent’) and ‘Hamara pani hamara adhikaar’ (‘our water is our right’).“For too long, we have been facing paucity of water due to mining, houses developed cracks because of blasts, and dust particles from stone crushers affect our health. It was time to make the mining mafia realise their mistakes,” Kailash Meena, an activist in the forefront of agitation, told The Hindu.After burning the Holi pyre, villagers celebrated the festival of colours on Monday with the pledge to fight out for their rights. Mr. Meena said a posse of policemen was deployed in Bharala to control any trouble, but the residents of the village had already declared that they wanted to stage a peaceful protest.Fight for rightsOnly recently, a villager Mahesh Saini was threatened by the operators of mines, while noted environmental activist Radheyshyam Shuklawas sustained head injuries in a violent attack on him in the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board office in Jaipur on February 2.In November 2014, local anti-mining activist Shankar Lal Meena was attacked and the police did not take any action in the case despite a series of demonstrations by the villagers.While pointing out it was their right to get clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and irrigate crops and pasture land for their cattle, activists have been demanding expeditious action against stone crushers and mines operating in defiance of the government orders. Mr. Meena said the demand for a probe by a retired High Court judge to find out the impact on people’s health, environment and agriculture was also pending.