first_img1 Real Madrid star Alvaro Morata has quit his Ibiza honeymoon to push through his £70million move to Manchester United, which could be completed in the next 48 hours.Morata married Alice Campello in Venice last week and then headed to the Balearic Island to celebrate his nuptials.But with the deal coming to a crucial phase, Morata has decided to head back to Madrid to help complete his switch to Old Trafford, according to Spanish newspaper AS.The report says Morata has spoken with United boss Jose Mourinho on the phone on several occasions and in keen on a move to Manchester.And reports in Dario Gol say the move could be completed in the next two days.Morata scored 15 goals in just 14 La Liga starts last term, but failed to secure a regular place in Zinedine Zindane’s side that completed a domestic and European Double. Antoine Griezmann had been Mourinho’s No 1 target, but that move now looks off the table and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was placed on the released earlier this month. Morata could become a Manchester United player in the next 48 hours last_img read more


first_imgWe have a Klay Thompson sighting.The Warriors’ binge scorer showed up at the “Space Jam 2” movie set Wednesday where he met with LeBron James and Warriors teammate Draymond Green. According to TMZ Sports, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard were also on the set.Thompson moved around with the aid of crutches to protect his left knee, which he injured during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. On Monday, Warriors general manager Bob Myers told reporters that Thompson would have surgery this week to repair …last_img read more


first_imgMike Nicol’s crime novel Killer Countryhas received positive reviews.(Image: Mike Nicol) Author Margie Orford on the cover ofthe special crime issue of WordsEtc.(Image: Margie Orford)MEDIA CONTACTS • Helen HolyoakeBookEx+27 11 462 2302Chris ThurmanSouth Africans like to talk about crime. It creeps into conversations at dinner parties, in shebeens, on radio talk shows and in parliament.Perhaps it was only a matter of time, then, until all that talking fostered creative writing and reading – not just in newspaper and magazine articles or online, but in books. South Africa’s publishers, booksellers and literary communities are all in a stir over “crime lit”.Literary websites like Book SA and LitNet are dedicating an increasing proportion of their content to so-called krimis. Earlier this year, literary journal WordsEtc brought out a special issue on the phenomenon, guest edited by Joanne Hichens, herself a crime writer. The publication featured interviews with, among others, the local queen of crime fiction, Margie Orford.Most recently, the inaugural BookEx book fair in Johannesburg hosted CrimeWrite, the first festival of its kind in the country. Organiser Mike Nicol expressed some disappointment at the turnout, but affirmed nonetheless that the writers participating showed “they can deliver the goods … there is a great marketing opportunity here.”“Pulp fiction with hardboiled prose”Nicol, a self-confessed krimihead, is the doyen of the South African crime writing scene and its most ardent promoter. This is quite something for a man who used to feel only disdain for the genre.He describes his crime novels as “pulp fiction with hardboiled prose”, and is unashamed about the formulaic requirements of much popular writing – in particular, he is critical of “academics who haven’t yet got their heads around the idea that commercial fiction has a completely legitimate place in any society’s literary life”.In penning these words, Nicol no doubt had in mind a review of his book Killer Country by literary scholar Leon de Kock of Stellenbosch University. The debate amongst members of the Book SA community following this review demonstrated the false perception that professional academics look down from their ivory towers on popular books, their readers and their writers.De Kock’s review in fact praises Nicol’s writing, but poses some important questions nonetheless: what does it mean for a former writer of serious literary works to turn his hand to genre fiction? Is this a process of dumbing-down in order to gain as wide a readership as possible? And if so, what assumptions are being made about readers? More specifically, why is it that so many writers have, like Nicol, chosen to focus their careers on crime writing?These are important questions, particularly in a country such as South Africa. There are ethical implications to representing the phenomenon of crime in the pages of a book – not least because writing for entertainment and writing for edification are by no means mutually inclusive.This dilemma is linked to the problem of definition. What is crime writing? After all, you would be hard pressed to identify any South African book (including those by our Nobel Prize-winners) in which transgression of the law is not a central theme. As such, crime has always been pervasive in South African literature.A useful distinction can, however, be made between fiction and non-fiction crime writing. One of the panel discussions at the CrimeWrite festival included well-known non-fiction authors Peter Harris, Antony Altbeker, Martin Welz and Chris Marnewick – all of whom have written about true crime in earnest engagements with South Africa’s crime epidemic. For the most part, however, when people refer to crime writing they mean what Nicol himself calls “schlock fiction”. This is, more or less, writing according to a set of conventions already established by authors from countries where crime is not as serious a social problem as it is here.Vicarious gratificationThose who defend crime fiction in South Africa could present a moral case if they wished to: in a country where, all too often, justice does not take its course, krimis offer a kind of vicarious gratification. As Nicol admits, crime novels tend to conclude with the triumph of moral justice, if not of the justice system: they appeal to a reader’s “innate desire to have good stomp all over evil”.But it’s not that simple. Many crime novels, in true realist form, reject neat endings in which the goodies beat the baddies; moreover, it’s not always that easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys.“One of the things that attracted me to crime fiction,” adds Nicol, “is the moral ambiguity it creates. There are no angels.”Likewise, crime writers do not claim any moral high ground for themselves. That WordsEtc cover image of Margie Orford is suitably ambiguous: looking sombre as she pulls on a white glove, Orford could either be a detective about to get to work or a murderer about to commit a heinous crime.Quoting Raymond Chandler’s observation that “crime fiction is a parody of itself, as tongue-in-cheek as it gets”, Nicol suggests that krimis mock “the author, the novel and the reader. It’s a game. Crime fiction confronts serious social issues but simultaneously says, don’t take me seriously.”An entertaining reading experienceIndeed, there seems to be consensus among South Africa’s crime writers that their vocation is fun – just as they want the reading experience to be entertaining. Yet the awkward question remains: what happens when writing and reading pleasure involves voyeuristic violence? There are no clear answers.A glance at the promotion tables in local book retailers provides evidence enough that South African readers are not reluctant to buy crime fiction from international authors such as Stieg Larsson and Ruth Rendell. This would suggest that most consumers see krimis as a form of escapism, which may be one reason why they avoid locally-produced crime lit: it is simply too close to the bone.But the major reason is, unfortunately, that South Africans are generally still hesitant to spend their time and money on works by South African authors.As Nicol laments, “Often we need to be ratified by overseas publication before local readers will buy our books.”This trend is slowly being reversed, and more and more South African books are on the shelves. If South African crime writing does prove to be as popular as is hoped by local practitioners of the craft – from veterans such as Deon Meyer and Wessel Ebersohn to newcomers like Sara Lotz and Sifiso Mzobe – then it may well help to grow a reading culture across the country.The last word can be left to Nicol: “It’s not so much a matter of dumbing-down as a new kind of book being written. The high literature will remain but readers now have more choice when it comes to buying local fiction. The trick is to make them aware of that choice.”last_img read more


first_imgWood is a renewable fuel and, assuming that new trees grow up to replace those cut for firewood, it is carbon-neutral, meaning that it doesn’t have a net contribution to global warming. That said, wood burning also churns out a lot of air pollutants, some of which are highly visible as smoke. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to reduce the pollution generated by wood burning—and boost the efficiency.Our discussion here focuses mostly on wood stoves; pellet stoves and larger central-heating wood boilers will be covered in future columns. Fireplaces, for the most part, shouldn’t be thought of as heating systems. They are aesthetic features that can add wonderful ambiance on special occasions—we use ours two or three times a year. But fireplaces burn very inefficiently, and they result in so much airflow up through the chimney that they can actually cause a net loss of energy. Cold air leaks into the house to replace all the room air going up the chimney, and this forces your central heating system to work harder.Burning wood cleanly and efficiently depends on three primary factors: the choice of wood stove; how the wood is stored and managed; and operation of the stove.Choosing a Clean-Burning, Efficient Wood StoveThe starting point in clean, efficient wood stove operation is the selection of the stove. Since July 1, 1990, all new wood stoves sold in the U.S. have been required to carry U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification. (The 1988 law banned the manufacturing of non-EPA-compliant wood stoves after July 1, 1988 and the sale of such stoves two years later.) The EPA standard for non-catalytic wood stoves is 7.5 grams per hour of emissions and for catalytic wood stoves 4.1 grams per hour. By comparison, older, non-certified wood stoves typically produce 40 to 60 grams per hour of pollution, according the EPA.Instituting stringent air pollution standards for wood stoves was a bold and controversial move by the federal government. It put over 80% of wood stove manufacturers out of business because it was too expensive for smaller companies to change their designs. But it also dramatically reduced pollution from wood stoves and boosted combustion efficiency—reducing air pollution by as much as 85%.Manufacturers achieved these improvements by significantly redesigning wood stoves—for example by insulating the firebox, adding baffles that lengthened the smoke path through the stove resulting in more complete combustion, and providing air-inlet holes above the combustion chamber to preheat combustion air. The new-generation, non-catalytic Vermont Castings Defiant NC 1610 and Encore NC 1450 wood stoves are the cleanest-burning models available, with EPA emissions ratings of less than 1 gram per hour, but all new wood stoves are far cleaner than their ancestors from two decades ago.Properly Seasoning FirewoodThe single most important factor for clean, efficient wood burning is using only dry wood. Wood should be seasoned at least six months off the ground and under cover after it is cut and split. Properly seasoned wood is usually deeply checked (checks are end-grain cracks that form as wood dries) and makes a hollow sound when two pieces are knocked together. If the moisture content of wood is high, that water evaporates as the wood is burned, which keeps the combustion temperature low. Even the most advanced wood stove will generate a lot of pollution and burn less efficiently if green (unseasoned) wood is used in it.The six months’ drying of firewood should be considered a minimum. Ideally, several years’ worth of firewood should be kept on hand, with the oldest burned first. One way of organizing this is by stacking green wood outdoors, and then after a season or two moving a heating-season’s worth of wood into a fully covered shed, from which a supply is brought into the house as needed. Green wood should not be stored indoors because of the significant amount of moisture that it will introduce to the house.In splitting firewood, keep the diameter of the split logs relatively small, especially for smaller wood stoves, so that there will be a lot of surface area during combustion. Smaller logs will also dry out more quickly.Operating Wood Stoves EfficientlyTo achieve optimal performance of a wood stove, it should be operated hot. Start the wood stove with crumpled newspaper and kindling. As the fire burns down, rake the coals toward the front or side of the stove, creating a mound (rather than spreading them out), and add several logs at the same time. In milder weather, build smaller fires, but still operate the stove hot, rather than keeping a large fire going and damping it down (restricting the air inlet). Regularly remove ashes so that air flow in the firebox is not impeded and there is plenty of room for wood.Fortunately, there’s an easy way to tell how cleanly (and efficiently) you’re burning your wood stove: the smoke coming out of your chimney. If you generate lots of smoke, the combustion isn’t very complete and a lot of particulate (and other) pollution is being created. This may occur if the wood isn’t very dry, as noted above. A lot of smoke may also indicate that you’re not bringing enough combustion air into your wood stove—most wood stove have an air inlet control. If unsure about proper operation of your wood stove for optimal performance, consult with the company you bought it from or a chimney cleaning service.To minimize pollution, never burn household trash, any manufactured or painted wood (including plywood and particleboard), or pressure-treated wood—burning any of these materials is illegal in Vermont.Also avoid moldy or rotten wood and even driftwood (the salt may corrode the stove and stovepipe or result in toxic emissions).For both safety and efficient operation, have the chimney or stovepipe cleaned at least annually. Build-up of soot can restrict the chimney draft and diminish stove performance. For safety, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are functioning properly. Replace batteries on battery-powered detectors at least annually, or whenever the low-battery alert sounds.last_img read more


first_imgKutch, India’s largest district, is in the grip of one of the worst droughts. The western and northern Banni areas of this Gujarat district have been without rain for the third continuous year.“Our data of over 12 years shows that during this drought the migration of the Maldhari tribal herders with their livestock has been very high,” says Ramesh Bhatti, programme director of Sahjivan Trust, Bhuj.“In their quest for water, people of Sheth Vandh in Banni get together, pray and start digging. Those in the surrounding villagers also join in,” says Abdul Rauf Mutwa, a local leader. Why has drought hit the Maldharis of Kutch so hard this year? Before Partition, the Maldharis used to migrate to Sindh during droughts, recalls Jumma Sama, a former sarpanch of Ratadia village.The drought has not spared Khadir island along the India-Pakistan border either.Jilubha Sodha of Dholavira in Khadir, who runs a cattle camp, says water from a branch canal of the Narmada project would be very valuable at such times, but it has not yet reached the area.(Images and text by Vijay Soneji)last_img read more


first_imgAll India Congress Committee’s Punjab in-charge Asha Kumari on Tuesday sought a report from the party’s State unit over the face-off between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu. Mr. Sidhu is under fire from his own party leaders after during electioneering he questioned as to why no FIR was lodged against the Badals for the desecration of religious texts in 2015. “We seek a report on every event, and in this issue too a report has been sought from the PCC,” Ms. Kumari said. She said the State party chief Sunil Jakhar, who is seeking re-election from Gurdaspur, will give the report once he is free from the election process after the declaration of the results.Captain Amarinder on Sunday had accused Mr. Sidhu of “damaging” the party in the State and suggested that he wanted to be the CM himself.Support for CM Meanwhile, more party leaders came out in support of the Chief Minister. “Amarinder Singh is an undisputed leader of Punjab. There are many facets to his personality,” said former Union Minister and party leader Manish Tewari. He praised Capt. Amarinder as a “protector of Punjab’s waters”, a writer, an able administrator who has a mass appeal. Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa also hit out at the Local Bodies Minister, saying, “Making such a statement during elections meant directly helping the Badals.” He added that Mr. Sidhu should know that it was Amarinder Singh who fought against the Badals and ensured the Congress victory in the 2017 Assembly polls. “In the 2017 Assembly polls, the Congress came to power in Punjab with an overwhelming majority as people voted in Amarinder Singh’s name. The party high command is with the Chief Minister. Our party has never tolerated indiscipline,” Mr. Randhawa said.Mr. Randhawa also alleged that when Mr. Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur, was a BJP MLA, she never spoke on the desecration issue.‘Unease in ranks’ Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, who is the BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Amritsar, took a jibe at the Congress, saying, “All along the campaign, one could sense unease in their ranks.” “Now the cat is out of the bag,” he tweeted.last_img read more