CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos or video on a mobile deviceThe Warriors picked up their first road win since October 29 on Monday, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-111 in the Peachtree State.You might remember that Oct. 29 game — that was the contest where Klay Thompson set the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game with 14. Here’s what we learned from Monday’s contest:Kevon Looney is (still) the Warriors’ best centerOf course, this was true before Monday’s …
13 June 2007African businesses can become far more competitive, but African governments and their international partners will need to improve access to finance, rebuild infrastructure and strengthen institutions.This is according to the Africa Competitiveness Report 2007, which was released this week at the 17th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, which takes place in Cape Town between 13 and 15 June.The report, jointly compiled by the WEF, the African Development Bank and the World Bank, analyses many aspects of Africa’s business environment and highlights the key issues that hinder improvements in Africa’s competitiveness and job growth.According to a statement issued by the WEF this week, the report includes the rankings of 29 African countries in the Global Competitiveness Index, detailed competitiveness and investment climate profiles, the effect of gender disparities on employment and competitiveness and the role of new technologies in fostering a more dynamic business environment.“Africa has the potential to become a far more competitive player in the global economy,” said the World Bank’s Africa region Vice President, Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili.“The study finds that, while a number of governments have significantly improved the business climate in their countries, the region as a whole has much more to do to make Africa a competitive location for enterprise. These changes in the business climate, together with greater access to finance and new investment in infrastructure, should come together to advance Africa’s drive to develop, create jobs and reduce poverty.”The common themes that emerge from the report are the requirement for sound government policies, the current lack of access to financial services, the need for an improved regulatory environment, poor transportation and energy infrastructure and business having to deal with corruption.The report also points to the growing number of success stories in the region that show the steps countries can take to improve business conditions.Trade and investment is vitalAccording to WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab, the report is an attempt to place the continent in a broader international context and to cast light on the important aspects of development in the region.“The key to the future of African economies is trade and investment and, therefore, the business climate. This is achieved by rallying investors to look at opportunities in African countries differently,” said African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka.“But we must vigorously now deal with the other set of barriers – physical – that means infrastructure. It is crystal clear today that energy shortages, poor roads and inadequate communication between countries and regions constitute a real impediment to the private sector and economic growth and, in the case of energy shortages, threaten to roll back economic achievements of the last six years,” he said.SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
8 June 2010An extraordinary thing happened recently in the famous chamber of London’s cavernous Royal Albert Hall.With 21 days to go before South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, eight South African stand-up comedians representing a kaleidoscope of the country’s racial diversity kept an overwhelmingly South African audience of more than 3 000 doubled up with laughter for three side-splitting hours.The show, called Bafunny Bafunny – a word-play on the nickname of SA’s national soccer team, Bafana Bafana (the boys) – was an irreverent attempt to build enthusiasm for the world’s largest sporting event among South Africa’s largest expatriate community – sometimes referred to as the tenth province of South Africa.Promoting social cohesionIt was catharsis of the kind that has been kindled – and could be fast-forwarded – by the national convergence and unity of purpose thrust on South Africans by hosting the world’s largest and most diverse sporting event.“The hosting of the 2010 World Cup will change the way the world sees South Africa and the African continent forever,” says President Jacob Zuma, who kicked a mean soccer ball himself while serving time for resistance to apartheid on South Africa’s notorious, Alcatraz-like Robben Island prison.Just as the 2006 World Cup had Germans smiling, drinking beer and waving the national flag en masse for the first time in 60 years, so the first African World Cup in South Africa could have an equally dramatic effect on promoting social cohesion in a country with a lingering legacy of deep racial inequality.Inside the Royal Albert Hall, there were two gigantic South African flags on either side of the massive organ and nothing to remind one that you were sitting in the heart of London’s prime venue.The crowd, a tiny fraction of the estimated 600 000 South Africans in the UK, was mobilised by word-of-mouth and without a single advertisement in mainstream media.Trevor Noah, Nick Rabinowitz, Loyiso Gola, Mark Lottering, John Vlismas, Kagiso Ledega, Mark Banks and Barry Hilton took the gloves off with slick, witty and hugely varied performances.Their repartee – peppered with four-letter words – slaughtered a series of favourite targets: Fifa, the fiery ANC youth leader Julius Malema, the police shoot-first policy, violent crime, and the biggest and most sensitive no-go area of all: race.The targeting of Malema was a moment of truth for the young democracy.After a protracted and heated public debate in April and May, the top disciplinary committee of the ruling African National Congress sanctioned Malema, inter alia, for singing an old liberation song which calls on its cadres to “kill a Boer” after it had been ruled to constitute hate speech by the courts.Boer was the label used to define conservative Afrikaans-speaking South Africans as the enemy during the apartheid era. The ANC has lodged an appeal against the ruling.At the height of the row, a half-forgotten extreme right-wing Boer leader, Eugene Terreblanche (whose name means “white earth” in the language of his French ancestors), was murdered by two black farm workers. The stark reality of the here and now confronted the young democracy.How do you justify a song coveted by one group of South Africans when it calls for the killing of members of another? Do you laugh or cry?‘It’s here. Can you feel it?’At the Royal Albert Hall on 20th May, the only tears to be found were those generated by excessive laughter.For three hours, a diverse audience of South Africans laughed at themselves, at each other and with each other at things that many could not talk about outside the comfort zone of their racial or cultural groups even a few years ago.In recent months, South Africans of all races have been donning Bafana shirts on Fridays, flying the national flag from their car windows, wrapping their rear-view mirrors in socks sporting the national flag, and chanting slogans about Africa’s time has come and: “It’s here. Can you feel it?”There is a rare inclusive outpouring of patriotic fervour.As the row about the noisy but uniquely African trumpet – known as a vuvuzela (Zulu for noise) – is debated on breakfast television shows at home and abroad, South Africans are undergoing a seismic shift in terms of social cohesion and identity which is set to be galvanised by hosting the 2010 World Cup.White South Africans, in the past wedded to rugby while soccer was and remains an overwhelmingly black sport, are starting to take ownership of the national team and willing it to victory despite its low international ranking.As the finishing touches are given to five awesome new stadiums, three transformed airports and a range of new transport and access routes, the level of national excitement is palpable.Estimates of foreign arrivals have come down significantly since the build-up began, which will mean that far more South Africans will get a seat at the stadiums.And there is a healthy ongoing debate about whether the large numbers of poor and unemployed South Africans will benefit from the expenditure of some US$5-billion on stadiums and related infrastructure.The physical benefits for the country’s economic infrastructure are there for all to see.But the most enduring benefactor of the World Cup will be the national psyche and the quest for a common national identity to transcend a deeply divided past.As former President Thabo Mbeki said when he spoke at the handing over ceremony in Berlin in 2006, the German World Cup succeeded in restoring some of Germany’s self-respect after its legacy of national socialism.“We are confident that the 2010 soccer World Cup will do the same to consolidate our self-respect and dignity gained when we attained our freedom and democracy in 1994 and, in a unique way, also help our own nation and the continent of Africa,” Mbeki said.Legacy and reconciliationBafana Captain Aaron Mokoena, even before the World Cup began, has taken the lead in ensuring that the legacy of the 2010 World Cup will benefit future generations of soccer players.A year ago he launched the Aaron Mokoena Foundation, which will ensure that those who were denied an opportunity in the past will benefit from the coaching and mentoring services the Foundation will provide; initially in the sprawling townships south of Johannesburg, including his home town of Boipatong in Sedibeng.“The future of the country is in the hands of the youth,” said Mokoena. “I want to make a contribution to ensure that they have the opportunity to reach for the stars.”An initiative such as John Perlman’s Dreamfields project is ensuring that thousands of would-be soccer players are getting access to kit and playing fields, often in the most remote rural reaches of the country.Local Organising committing CEO, Danny Jordaan, who has become synonymous with the World Cup, sees the staging of the event as a culmination of the anti-apartheid struggle which so effectively used sport to defeat apartheid.In 1995, former President Nelson Mandela used the rugby World Cup as a means of galvanising conservative white support for the country’s first black majority government. The story has been movingly told in the book Invictus by John Carlin and the film of the same name starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.Mandela was also instrumental in securing the Fifa World Cup for South Africa.“Reconciliation is an important aim of the World Cup.” Jordaan told the Independent on Sunday. “We want to make this country better and more united and I think we will achieve that.”“It will chart a new course in our country’s history,” he said.This article was first published in the Christian Science Monitor (online) and republished on ReConnect Africa.John Battersby is a former southern Africa correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor and a former editor of the Sunday Independent in Johannesburg. He is co-author of Nelson Mandela: A Life in Photographs published by Sterling in the United States in January 2010. Battersby is a trustee of the Aaron Mokoena Foundation.
Audio repair tools are always in demand. The ERA 4 Bundle audio repair plug-ins claim to be simple and fast. So, let’s put them to the test.More often than not, it seems like it’s impossible to fix bad audio in post. However, more and more audio repair tools are coming to the market, especially geared toward filmmakers.Accusonus has created a set of audio repair tools called the ERA Bundle. Accusonus describes the tools as “a collection of single knob, audio cleaning plug-ins, that are incredibly fast and easy to use.”The audio tools come in two collections: the ERA 4 Bundle Standard priced at $149 and the ERA 4 Bundle Pro priced at $499.How the ERA Audio Plug-ins WorkThe ERA plug-ins work with software you’re probably already using as a filmmaker. This includes non-linear editors like: Premiere Pro, Resolve, Final Cut Pro, Avid, and more. They also work with digital audio workstations like: Audition, Pro Tools, and Audacity.I decided to test out the ERA plug-ins with Premiere Pro. After you download and install the ERA plug-ins, to enable them in Premiere Pro, navigate to the Audio section under Preferences. From there, simply select Audio Plug-in Manager and select Scan for Plug-ins. Then, you can apply them like any other audio effects available in Premiere Pro.Simplicity of the ToolsThe appeal of the ERA plug-ins is that they’re simple, single knob audio tools with professional results. This can be helpful for filmmakers (or tutorial makers) that frequently require clean audio, but may not be versed in the fine settings of a dedicated audio program. Each plugin interface has a clean look with basic features. The ERA 4 Bundle Pro has two additional plug-ins, allowing users to dive deeper into the audio settings, if needed.Let’s take a look at each of the ERA 4 plug-ins.Noise RemoverThe ERA Noise Remover is definitely one of the highlight tools. I tested it on some voiceover, with an air-conditioner roaring in background.It was very simple to use — just drag and drop — then I cranked the main processing dial up to sixty-two percent. I was quite satisfied with the final audio result. Typically, in order to do noise removal like this, it’d require round-tripping the audio into Adobe Audition, then back to Premiere Pro. There’s no doubt that the ERA Noise Remover provided faster results.On some occasions, I’d encounter a bit of a digitized sound on the voiceover when using the ERA Noise Remover. This would disappear if I increased the processing to around 60-70 percent. That seemed to be the ideal processing range for the audio I tested.Reverb RemoverIt can be difficult to identify reverb on location because our ears easily habituate and filter out the excess sound — only to later discover the produced reverb during the editing process. The ERA Reverb Remover works well at rounding off that excess sound.All I did here was drag and drop the Reverb Remover to my audio clip, and then turn the processing up to fifty-seven percent. I felt that the end audio result was definitely usable, despite the extreme reverb conditions.De-EsserThe ERA De-Esser helps smooth out audio problems caused by excessive sibilant consonants. Usually from words that contain “s,” “z,” “ch,” “j,” and “sh.”I got the best results with De-Esser when I set the processing mode to Broad and checked on the Intense processing. In some cases, the De-Esser will add a more rounded sound quality to all of your audio. Be mindful of that because the goal is to target the problematic areas, not round-off the entire voiceover.Plosive RemoverThe Plosive Remover plug-in works in a similar fashion to the De-Esser. However, the Plosive Remover targets words that have a “pop” sound, and might result in the speaker’s breath impacting the microphone. (This often occurs if you aren’t using a pop filter or wind shield with your microphone.) This results in an unwanted “thump” sound that can be distracting.I felt that the Plosive Remover plug-in did its job. It’d be ideal for use on podcasts and tutorial narration videos.Voice LevelerThe ERA Voice Leveler was the only plug-in I probably wouldn’t ever find myself using. I could see it being useful for journalists recording interview audio on-location. But, as a filmmaker, the automatic gain adjustments sounded too synthetic for my liking. However, I try not to use any automatic voice leveling effects, so I’m probably not the target audience for this particular plug-in. De-ClipperThe ERA De-Clipper plug-in has to be heard to be believed. For me, this is by far the most valuable plug-in. It can repair clipped audio that’d otherwise be unusable.(Warning: the audio is louder on this sample.)De-Clipper effectively rounds off the clipped portions of the audio, as if the clipping never occurred. This plug-in could be a lifesaver in an interview situation if you discovered clipped audio after the fact.De-Esser ProThe De-Esser Pro plug-in is only available in the ERA 4 Bundle Pro. It expands on the De-Esser plug-in, with more options and some useful presets.In addition to the main Processing dial, you also have a slider for Focus and Shaping. I got great results when I softened the Shaping settings. Compared to the standard De-Esser, I preferred the additional options offered by the De-Esser Pro plug-in.ERA-DThe ERA-D plug-in is also only available with the ERA 4 Bundle Pro. The ERA-D plug-in combines the noise remover and the reverb remover into one effective solution. It also includes quite a few more settings to customize, as well as presets.The level of customization is greatly increased with the ERA-D plug-in, which makes it appealing to audiophiles who prefer the ability to fine-tune their mix.ConclusionAfter using the plug-ins with Premiere Pro, I’d highly recommend both the ERA 4 Bundle Standard and the ERA 4 Bundle Pro. The simplicity of the plug-ins, and the amount of time you save during edits, is well worth it. The stand out plug-ins (for me) were the Noise Remover, the Reverb Remover, and the De-Clipper. Any one of these could salvage a problematic audio situation.I’d recommend the ERA 4 Bundle Standard to indie filmmakers and YouTubers looking for a cost-effective solution. The standard bundle has all of the core audio repair tools you’ll need. And, if you work for a studio that can easily afford a professional package, pick up the ERA 4 Bundle Pro.Looking for more audio editing tips? Check these out.The Complete Video Editor’s Guide to Working with MusicCreative Ways You Can Use Music Loops in Your VideosWAV vs. MP3: Why You Need Hi-Res Audio for Your VideoDownload, Prep, and Import Song Stems to Your Favorite NLEHow Video Editors Can Increase Production Value Using Song Stems