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Sarah Palin is the other whom Yoda spoke about.

calendar   Friday - February 25, 2011

A & R Friday, Part 2

Looks like Peiper had the same idea. Not that there isn’t always room for more.

This is the replacement post. I wasn’t even going to do it. I was going to write about how the Cairo Museum is open again, and how, against all odds, TV personality, martinet, staunch Mubarak supporter, and Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass still has his job. I had neat pictures of tanks in front of the museum, which is right there on the edge of Tahrir Square in Cairo. Pictures of Hawass inside with Egyptian Special Forces guards, rumors of how the museum was used as a police detention and torture center during the protests, links to the ruckus surrounding the looting that went on there and at other archaeological sites around the country, stories about how the people worked with the army and the police to guard as many of these places as they could, quotes from Hawass’ pro-Mubarak speeches. The little glory hound must have unimaginable pull in that country. It’s amazing. Not only did he survive the falling government, but he managed to scrounge up the money to hire 900 new Egyptian archaeology graduates for half a year, followed by 500 more. But the post wouldn’t gel, so finally I just threw it out. I had this one in reserve. Mostly.


A Mile Down Underground River, Ancient Human Skull Found

Skull is older than the end of the last Ice Age;

Rising sea levels flooded Yucatan caves 12,000+ years ago



Swim for miles in the dark, in a labyrinthine cave underground, and then dive further down a giant shaft to nearly 200 feet below sea level? No thanks. But that’s what it takes to find ancient evidence that people went to Cancun ages before there was anything called Spring Break.


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Deep underground, cave diver puts marker next to ancient human skull. National Geographic photo.



“This is the Holy Grail of underwater cave exploration.”

Explorers have discovered what might be the oldest evidence of humans in the Americas. Alex Alvarez, Franco Attolini, and Alberto (Beto) Nava are members of PET (Projecto Espeleológico de Tulum), an organization that specializes in the exploration and survey of underwater caves on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Alex, Franco and Beto have surveyed tens of thousands of feet of mazelike cave passages in the state of Quintana Roo. The team’s relatively recent explorations of a large pit named Hoyo Negro (Black Hole, in Spanish), deep within a flooded cave, resulted in their breathtaking and once-in-a-lifetime discovery of the remains of an Ice Age mastodon and a human skull at the very bottom of the black abyss.

Hoyo Negro was reached by the PET team after the divers travelled more than 4,000 feet [1,200 meters] through underwater passages using underwater propulsion vehicles, or scooters, which enabled them to cover long distances in the flooded cave system.

Once they reached the pit, they began to survey and document its dimensions. The pit is approximately 200 feet [60 meters] deep and 120 feet [36 meters] in diameter and is located inside the Aktun-Hu cave system in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
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“The immense size of Hoyo Negro is difficult to comprehend. Once you enter the pit you cannot see the floor below, and all that can be seen in front of you is a black void—an inviting entrance to the abyss, “ recalls Franco.

The team of explorers touched bottom at 197 feet [57 meters], where they made their incredible discovery.

Approximately 12,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, Earth experienced great climatic changes. The melting of the ice caps caused a dramatic rise in global sea levels, which flooded low lying coastal landscapes and cave systems. Many of the subterranean spaces that once provided people and animals with water and shelter became inundated and lost until the advent of cave diving.

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“The findings of Hoyo Negro are a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. The skull looks pre-Maya, which could make it one of the oldest set of human remains in the area. Gaining an understanding of how this human and these animals entered the site will reveal an immense amount of knowledge from that time.
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The human found with the megafauna remains in Hoyo Negro could represent the oldest evidence of humans yet discovered in the Americas.

Archaeological and genetic data have long supported a northeast Asia origin for the populations that first settled North and South America. The so-called “First Americans” or Paleoindian peoples likely entered into these new lands sometime between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.
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“During the Late Pleistocene, these caves were dry. The first people to occupy what is now the Caribbean coast of Mexico wandered into these caves, where some ultimately met their demise.

“As the last glacial maximum came to end, the melting of the polar ice caps and continental ice sheets raised sea levels worldwide. The caves of the Yucatan Peninsula filled with water and the First Americans were hidden for millennia—only to be discovered by underwater cave explorers

“It is within these dark reaches that cave explorers are discovering and documenting the oldest human skeletons yet found in the Western Hemisphere,” Rissolo said.

Plenty more info and pics at the Nat Geo source.

And if those eyes looked interesting, the “R” part of this “A & R” post is below the fold:

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/25/2011 at 06:46 PM   
Filed Under: • AfricaArcheology / AnthropologyEye-Candy •  
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calendar   Thursday - February 24, 2011

Arab turmoil could mean an orgy of bloodletting and rocketing oil prices.

It’s almost 6:30pm here and on the 6 o-clock news there was an interesting theory from the Colonel in Libya. No, I’m not kidding.

Gaddaifi suspects that the ring leader behind all the trouble in Libya is ..........

OSAMA Yeah. That Osama. OBL!

As you’d expect, Libya is almost wall to wall and especially as there are so many Brits trying to get out of there.
Very embarrassing for the govt. here. They got a flight yesterday to go and bring back a bunch of their citizens BUT .... the plane left 10 hours late due to tech problems.  Couldn’t get the dam,n thing in the air. Oh boy. What next?

Then there are all the accusations of the former govt. cozying up to Gaddaifi and selling him weapons etc. Which really is hypocritical. I have zero love or tolerance for the govt. I think helped to wreck this country. But come on.  It isn’t like the cons here raised any kind fuss and fury over the years I’ve been here. They have known for years.  There isn’t any way they could not have known. So to now take the moral high ground is pretty raunchy.
Ppl here have known as we have in the USA, that the colonel is a creepy killer and a terrorist of the first rank.  And we came to an accommodation as well.
OK so ....  There was an interesting column in The Mail this morning.  I won’t post much here, and it’s long. But it is worth the reading and some may not agree. He is one of those who holds the belief that the war against Iraq was wrong. But his column isn’t all about that.
The headline in the paper is different from that of the one on line. Here’s what I saw. It made me read the whole thing which isn’t easy because they cram an awful lot into a page in very small print. 
I can’t say I agree with him on all points. That doesn’t make this any less interesting.
I’ve edited for space.

MANY HAIL EVENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AS A BRIGHT NEW DAWN.

BUT REVOLUTIONS HAVE A NASTY HABIT OF KICKING NAIVE IDEALISTS IN THE TEETH.

By DOMINIC SANDBROOK
Last updated at 8:38 AM on 24th February 2011

Even by the repressive standards of Middle Eastern autocrats, Colonel Gaddafi has long cut a brutally capricious figure.

But while nobody who remembers the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher or the appalling slaughter at Lockerbie will mourn Gaddafi’s downfall, this year’s tumultuous events in North Africa could mark a shocking and seismic shift in the balance of power.

We are at a hinge moment in world history. As the Arab revolutions have shown, the old certainties are cracking apart.

And despite the naive predictions of a new liberal order, the future might well prove a very dangerous place indeed — with potentially devastating economic repercussions for millions of British families.

Indeed, in all the excitement at the fall of the Arab autocracies, it is hard to miss the whiff of Western hubris.

Like the arrogant neo-conservatives who thought it would be child’s play to export democracy to Iraq, many of the idealists exulting in the giddy triumphs of street politics believe history is on their side.

Sadly, history has a habit of kicking idealists in the teeth. The revolutions in the Arab world are far from over.

And when events have played themselves out, there is a good chance the results will be very different from the utopian fantasies of the armchair pundits.

But what the idealists often forget is that not all uprisings, like the peaceful transition in the former Czechoslovakia, come cloaked in velvet.

All too often, as in Mexico in 1910 or Russia in 1917, violence begets violence.

And eventually, as the French politician Pierre Vergniaud — who ended up on the guillotine — famously put it, the revolution devours its own children.

READ IT ALL HERE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 02/24/2011 at 06:23 PM   
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Lines in the sand of nomenclature

When Tunisia had it’s turnover some weeks ago, the nation-wide protest movement was quickly relabeled as the “Jasmine Revolution”.

Egyptian protesters managed to oust their leader, force a new cabinet to be installed, and wound up with the army in charge for now but promising all sorts of reforms and elections. Somehow this was never a “revolution” even though it effectively toppled the government.

The situation in Libya looks more and more like an actual civil war every day. It looks like a classic old-school South/Central American revolution, other than the niggling absence of one new tinpot dictator appearing to replace the one about to be pushed out of the catbird seat.

News items:

Libyan Protesters Vow to ‘Liberate’ Tripoli as Army Unleashes Attack

BENGHAZI, Libya—A Libyan army unit loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi attacked anti-government protesters holed up in a mosque in a key city west of the capital Thursday, blasting a minaret with anti-aircraft missiles and automatic weapons, a witness said.

Protesters who had been camped inside and outside the mosque suffered heavy casualties in the attack on Zawiya, 30 miles west of Tripoli, the witness said, but he couldn’t provide an exact toll.

Pro-Qaddafi forces have fought back fiercely as the longtime leader has seen his control whittled away, with Zawiya and other major Libyan cities and towns closer to the capital falling to the rebellion against his rule. In the east, now all but broken away, the opposition vowed to “liberate” Tripoli, where the Libyan leader is holed up with a force of militiamen roaming the streets and tanks guarding the outskirts.

Report: Libyan capital deserted; opposition seizes major city

Benghazi, Libya (CNN)—The Libyan capital was a ghost town Thursday morning, witnesses said, as anti-government protesters declared victory elsewhere after reportedly seizing control of the country’s third-largest city.

Misrata—also spelled as Misurata—is now in the hands of the opposition, who have driven out the mercenaries, according to witnesses and multiple media reports. Witnesses and multiple reports also said that the town of Az Zintan was under opposition control. The opposition also controls Libya’s second-largest city, Benghazi, where crowds cheered as international journalists drove through the city. The only shooting that could be heard was celebratory gunfire.

U.S. Fears Tripoli May Deploy Gas As Chaos Mounts

WASHINGTON—The government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi hasn’t destroyed significant stockpiles of mustard gas and other chemical-weapons agents, raising fears in Washington about what could happen to them—and whether they may be used—as Libya slides further into chaos.

Tripoli also maintains control of aging Scud B missiles, U.S. officials said, as well as 1,000 metric tons of uranium yellowcake and vast amounts of conventional weapons that Col. Gadhafi has channeled in the past to militants operating in countries like Sudan and Chad.

Fleeing Egyptians Tell of Qaddafi’s `Bloodbath’ Across Libya

It’s a massacre in there,” said Mohamed Yehia after he crossed into Egypt at the northwestern town of Salloum, speaking of the deadly crackdown by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. “He is crazy. The world must know what he’s doing to his people.”

Yehia, 23, is one of thousands of Egyptians working in Libya who gathered their belongings and left the oil-rich country yesterday after Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, this week accused foreigners, including Tunisians and Egyptians, of inciting the ongoing revolt.
...
Many of those arriving said they had seen mercenaries from Africa and elsewhere, some dark-skinned and some fair, some speaking French. They had been deployed to attack anti- government protesters in Libyan cities, including the capital, Tripoli, and Benghazi, which has seen some of the worst violence since the uprising began last week, the eyewitnesses said.

Anti-aircraft missiles? Concerns over WMD? Mercenaries? Tanks? Cities “falling” and being “seized”? Bloodbath? That certainly sounds like a whole lot more than just a protest movement. It sounds like full scale civil war. I think it’s time to change labels and start calling this one a revolution. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck ... and doesn’t have a portable indoor duck bin ...

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Maybe the world needs to coin a new phrase that defines a popular uprising with no obvious leaders that is designed to change the existing government by any means possible. Right now the only term we have for something like that is ... Tea Party. [ Drew lets that one sink in for a few moments ]

The Libyan situation is different though. Isn’t it? Their mass protests were met with violence, so they returned violence in spades. So it seems. And the Tea Party people don’t really want to change the system as much as they want to purify it and return it to it’s original more limited form. Aside from removing Gaddafi, I don’t know what the “protest movement” in Libya wants in terms of government. But it certainly seems to be an actual revolution.

And now it looks like Algeria is next on the list. The whole of North Africa is going up in flames. You’d think the West would be cheering them on to throw off their chains of oppression. But we’re not, because we don’t know where they are going. Do the Libyans themselves even know? 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/24/2011 at 03:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Africa •  
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calendar   Friday - February 11, 2011

Your Foreign Aid Dollars At Work

Booty Boat Ferries Frisky Giraffes



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In an attempt to increase the range of the endangered Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), wildlife biologists have taken to ferrying young adult males and females about to enter estrus across Lake Tanganyika from Tanzania into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to the massive size of the lake, it would take longer for even these long legged creatures to walk around it than their mating season gives them, so the biologists built them their own ferry.

“Putting a cage on the barge wasn’t hard” states Mbulati Gahlwana, chief biologist for the Giraffe Project, “but rounding up half a dozen giraffes and getting them all aboard without injury was a challenge. They are very energetic creatures, and a kick from even a young one can kill a man in one go.”

The land and climate in most of the DR Congo is not perfect for giraffes, but the area on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika is moist enough to support the kind of vegetation and cover that these giraffes need. The Giraffe Project hopes to be able to move 4 dozen pairs of Masai Giraffes this year, enough to establish a small breeding population.

“We worry about poachers over there” says Gahlwana, “but if they don’t know the giraffes are around they might not go looking for them.”

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The Giraffe Project is funded both by US foreign aid to Tanzania and by the World Wildlife Foundation.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/11/2011 at 02:46 PM   
Filed Under: • AfricaAnimalsFun-StuffMedia-Bias •  
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calendar   Tuesday - February 08, 2011

Lines Drawn In The Sand

How About Aksum, Kush, or Upper Nubia?



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Somebody has to draw some borders somewhere in here



“We’re leaving and we’re taking all the money with us!”: oil producing Christian black southern Sudan votes to split from piss poor Arab muslim northern Sudan. Years of civil war have destroyed Sudan, and the sub-Saharan southerners have voted to divorce themselves from the pan-Saharan northerners. Borders have to be drawn, and the new country has to pick out a name. But the USA has already agreed to recognize them ($$$$), even if the country won’t even exist until July.


KHARTOUM (Reuters) – South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to declare independence in final results of a referendum announced on Monday, opening the door to Africa’s newest state and a fresh period of uncertainty for the fractured region.

Hundreds of south Sudanese danced, screamed and waved flags as the announcement was broadcast on a line of TV sets in a square in the center of the southern capital Juba.

A total of 98.83 percent of voters from Sudan’s oil-producing south chose to secede from the north in last month’s referendum, the chairman of the vote’s organizing commission Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil said.
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The referendum is the climax of a 2005 north-south peace accord that set out to end Africa’s longest civil war and instill democracy in a country that straddles the continent’s Arab-sub Saharan divide.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir earlier said he accepted the result, allaying fears that the split could reignite conflict over the control of the south’s oil reserves.

“Today we received these results and we accept and welcome these results because they represent the will of the southern people,” he said in an address on state TV.

Southern officials say the question of a name for the new state is unresolved but it could become just “South Sudan.”
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“Southern Sudanese are a new people now. We have a new identity. We have respect from everyone at last. Our country has come today,” said Rebecca Maluk, a war widow and mother-of-three in the crowd in Juba.

U.S. to recognize south Sudan as a new country
President Obama says the Sudan split will be officially recognized in July. In a Jan. 9 vote, 98% of southern Sudanese voters chose independence. Obama calls for peaceful resolutions to disputes and an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur.
...
The south is principally Christian, and the north Muslim. The separate countries still have to negotiate a range of issues, including citizenship, borders, and oil rights and revenues. In his statement, Obama said the “outstanding disputes must be resolved peacefully. At the same time, there must be an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur and a definitive end to that conflict.”

Funny how the more that things change, the more they stay the same. Way back when, back in the days of Pharaoh, the southern border of upper Egypt was usually considered to be either the First Cataract of the Nile (at modern Aswan), or the Second Cataract of the Nile (currently underneath Lake Nasser by present day Wadi Halfa), depending on how subservient the Nubians were being. 4000 years later, and the modern border between upper Egypt and Sudan is ... in exactly the same place. The ancient land of Damot is pretty much the modern country of Eritrea. Across the Red Sea, the biblical land of Sheba is nowadays called Yemen. These are all natural borders formed by rivers and mountain ranges.

In another Once Upon A Time, somewhere between then and now, the land of Punt ruled both sides of the mouth of the Red Sea down to the Horn of Africa, which is now part of Ethiopia and Somalia.  So Punt doesn’t work as a name for the new country. I think it was also more of a confederation of tribes too, since the kingdom went across several natural borders. But Kush historically began at the Sixth Cataract, and the city near there, where the White Nile meets the Blue Nile, is called Khartoum. It makes sense to put the border near there, because the land changes radically at that point, and for all I know the people do as well. I don’t know where the population demarcations are in Sudan, but I’m pretty sure they’re not far from this city. The White Nile comes up out of the fever swamps of tropical Africa, and the Blue Nile comes down from the more temperate highlands of Ethiopia. Neither area is historically Arab. Upper Nubia would be a good name to tie this new country to it’s African roots. Aksum (Axum) would work too, and celebrate the area’s Christianity. It wouldn’t be a perfect geographical fit, but it would be one in a Prestor John kind of way, since the old kingdom of Aksum was the first African nation to go Christian. You can look at a map of Sudan and see how the northern cities have Arabic names, while the southern ones have African names. So it would seem smart to me to draw the borders on as natural a line as possible

So peace may finally be at hand in this troubled corner of the world, and a new Christian nation may be about to rise in Africa. One with an actual revenue stream. Now if they can just negotiate a border so that they wind up with a few miles of water front property on the Red Sea, they’ll be in clover. Well, maybe not clover, but emmer or kef.

UPDATE:
I do not know if the United States has ever before extended diplomatic recognition to a nation that does not yet exist. Is this a first? More importantly, is this recognition some kind of imprimatur, a sign that the nation being born has the support and backing of the USA? A Christian nation on the borders of muzzie-land? That itself would be such a bold move that ... I’m having a Vizzini Moment - “it’s inconceivable!!” - and have it happen under the pro-Arab, anti-Christian, no-push-for-international-freedom Obama regime? A total break with our historic “hands off, mostly” Africa policy? I’m thunderstruck. And if it settles the Darfur genocide without bringing in armies? Holy cow. We’re talking major legacy and another Nobel Peace prize, IF - and it seems to be a doubtful if - IF the USA is the driving force behind this. I do not think they are. I can not let myself believe that our diplomatic corps could pull off such a miracle and NOT have a single word to say about it in the press until after it was a done deal. That could never happen. So my thought is that this is a solution the people in southern Sudan came up with all by themselves. And while the world may be only too happy to recognize their nascent independence, the question remains whether their neighbors - crazy people with lots of guns on all sides - will also do so. Keep your fingers crossed.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/08/2011 at 05:21 PM   
Filed Under: • AfricaPoliticsRacism and race relationsRoPMA •  
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calendar   Monday - January 17, 2011

Unrest Continues In Tunisia

Shaky Tunisian Government Uses Teargas and Water Cannons on Protest Crowds

Protesters call from current government to quit now

Tunisia, Northern Africa: Hundreds of people rallied in central Tunis on Monday to demand the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ruling RDC party as police fired volleys of tear gas to break up the protest.

“We don’t want anyone from the old party in the new government. That includes the prime minister,” one protester told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi was a close ally of Ben Ali and held talks with opposition parties on Sunday to form a national unity government that is due to be unveiled on Monday.

The opposition said members of the previous government are set to stay on.

Any public gatherings are banned under a state of emergency declared by Ben Ali on Friday just before he resigned and fled to Saudi Arabia.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the rally and prevent protesters from marching on the headquarters of the RDC, the Constitutional Democratic Rally.

“With our blood and our soul we are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the martyrs,” they chanted, referring to the dozens reported killed in a wave of protests that led to Ben Ali’s downfall after 23 years in power.

There was another rally in Sidi Bouzid, a city in central Tunisia that was at the heart of the protests that erupted against Ben Ali’s regime mid-December. Demonstrators there chanted: “Bread and water and no RDC!”

A rally was also held in Regueb, a town near Sidi Bouzid.

Tunisia’s ‘Jasmine Revolution’ is still under way, with fighting in the capital today. The enraged Tunisians who took to the streets in December in revulsion at their corrupt, autocratic regime achieved their primary goal: The removal from power of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But what sort of new order will emerge in the North African country, or whether it will be much different from the old one, has not yet been determined.

For a look at the power players there, click here.

Go on, take the money and run: Meanwhile, Mrs. Dictator seems to have skedaddled with the loot, big time!

Ben Ali’s wife picked up 1.5 tons of gold before fleeing

The wife of ousted Tunisian president Zine el- Abidine ben Ali collected 1.5 tons of gold from the central bank before fleeing the country, the French newspaper Le Monde reported Monday.

Leila Trabelsi visited the bank in Tunis and is thought to have taken the gold bars worth some 60 million dollars along when departing onboard a plane bound for Dubai, according to the report. The head of the bank had reportedly not wanted to hand over the gold at first, but after the 53-year-old contacted her husband telephonically, she was given the gold bars.

The 74-year-old longtime president had initially also resisted instructing the bank to do so, Le Monde said. Ben Ali’s second wife and her relatives have a reputation for being money and power hungry. The Trabelsi clan is regarded as corrupt and widely believed to be involved in racketeering.

After Ben Ali’s was ousted Friday, angry Tunisians looted the couple’s villa in a posh suburb of the capital Tunis. Imed Trabelsi, a businessman and nephew of the president’s wife who for many was a symbol of corruption, was stabbed to death.

Given today’s gold price of roughly $1360/Toz, and 1.5 Troy tons of gold being 3675 Troys pounds, each made up of 12 Troy ounces ... that’s $59,976,000 in bullion; nearly 59 cubic feet of gold; a block 46.6” inches on a side, nearly 2.2 cubic yards worth that weighs 1371.663 kilograms, about as much mass as a small car. That’s a lot of gold!

It’s always fun playing with Troy and Avoirdupois weights, just to remind myself that a pound of feathers weighs 1240 grains more than a pound of gold. But until today I did not know the common factor of these two measurement systems: one is wheat, the other is water. One cubic foot of pure cold water weighs 62.5 avoirdupois pounds; one cubic foot of wheat weighs 62.5 troy pounds. Which means that 1000 avoirdupois ounces weighs the same as 750 Troy ounces. So there ya go. The French came up with this in the year 732, so they didn’t really factor in the varying moisture level that wheat can have. Half an eon later the English adopted it, so now we’re stuck with it. Don’t go looking at how 8 gallons - 64lb - of sea water can be both a cubic foot and a bushel, since a bushel is about 1.24 cubic feet. But hey, back in 732 a bushel was a round basket a cubit across by a handslength deep. Which is irrational, and thus perfectly fwench.

So here’s Stephanie Abrams from the Weather Channel, looking good in pics and being inadvertently naughty in a short video clip. Hope you were watching this morning; she had that tight red cashmere sweater on again. Yum!

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/17/2011 at 02:51 PM   
Filed Under: • AfricaInternationalNews-Briefs •  
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calendar   Friday - January 14, 2011

sic semper tyrannis?

Tunisia: President Resigns, Flees

A few hours ago:

Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali fired his government and called an early parliamentary election on Friday in an increasingly frantic effort to quell the worst unrest in his two decades in power.

Authorities declared a state of emergency and an overnight curfew. Gatherings of more than three people were banned and state television warned that “arms will be used” if the orders of the security forces are not obeyed.

The announcements came as police fired teargas and gunshots rang out to disperse crowds in central Tunis demanding the veteran ruler’s immediate resignation despite his promise on Thursday to step down in 2014.

Medical sources and a witness said 12 more people were killed in overnight clashes in the capital and the northeastern town of Ras Jebel.

Before the latest deaths emerged, the official death toll in almost a month of violence was 23, while the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said it had a list of at least 66 people killed.

The 74-year-old president announced in a television address on Thursday evening that he would not seek a sixth term as expected in 2014, following a month of violent protests against unemployment, repression and corruption.

While Tunisia’s problems are shared by other countries in the region, the latest unrest was sparked when police prevented an unemployed graduate from selling fruit without a license and he set fire to himself, dying shortly afterwards of his burns.

In power since 1987, Ben Ali made sweeping concessions, saying security forces would no longer use live ammunition against protesters and promising freedom of the press and an end to Internet censorship. He also said the prices of sugar, milk and bread would be cut.

On Friday, state television flashed the announcement: “The president has decided to dismiss the government and to hold legislative elections within six months.” It gave no details.

But protests continued in the capital and other cities on Friday. Around 8,000 people rallied outside the interior ministry in central Tunis, chanting “Ben Ali, leave!” and “Ben Ali, assassin!”

After police fired teargas and wielded their truncheons, crowds of youths retreated a little way from the building and started throwing stones at the police, who responded with more tear gas grenades. Reporters also heard gunfire nearby.

Minutes ago:

Tunisian president flees; PM announces he’s taking over

After declaring state of emergency and dismissing entire government, Ben Ali reportedly in France; military closes Tunisian airspace.

Speaking at a press conference Friday, Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said that the country’s president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, had fled the country, reportedly to France. The prime minister added that he was taking over the government.

Following the president’s departure, the Tunisian army seized the airport and closed Tunisian airspace to all traffic.

Tunisia is where Carthage was. It is a small country on the north shore of Africa, west of Libya, east of Algeria, due south of Sardinia, and south west of Sicily. According to Wikipedia:

Today Tunisia has an authoritarian regime. It is an export-oriented country, in the process of liberalizing and privatizing its economy but has rife corruption benefiting the president’s family. The country operates as a nominal republic under the leadership of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who has governed since 1987. The Tunisian economy has averaged 5% GDP growth since the early 1990s. A popular revolution is currently underway.

So let’s see if this revolution gets as far as democracy and capitalism, or if this is another more example of one tinpot dictator replacing another. Tunisia has been an ally in the GWOT so far. No word on whether the insurrection / popular revolution is a call for another islamic republic.

Tunisia is an oil exporting nation, along with fertilizer and some manufacturing. They are one of the most productive nations in Africa, eclipsing Greece, Italy, and Portugal in terms of economic competitiveness, and a 2009 per capita GDP of over $8250.

Liveblog of the situation in Tunisia can be found here, and Al Jazeera is covering this fully. Oh, if only Fox News had an African American subdivision!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/14/2011 at 06:01 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - December 12, 2010

She has been punched in the face and had a gun to her head … white farmer in Zimbabwe.

Read this a few days ago.  There’s another problem facing these people.  The Mugabe govt. is now selling farms to other whites, which are already owned by families still in residence.  Aside from any feeling of group loyalty, I don’t understand how the second group of farmers would so willingly trust that fugitive from a tall tree.  He’s wrecked the economy of his country, there are still people starving there, which I care nothing about, and his police continue to ruin what farms are left.  Oh well, it must be a black thing whites aren’t expected to understand.  Lets see, farms ... food .... burn farms or turn over to landless inexperienced folks who never farmed before ..... hmmm. Hunger. Now how’d that happen boss?
Not to worry .....  we be the white guy’s burden and him bail us outta this here mess. Again. Look you at Haiti man. Make white liberal feel guilty, he send more money.  Work evy time. You see.


White couple who fought the mob for their precious land and triumphed ... for a while

By Sunday Times Zimbabwean

Hope flashed into the weary lives of Heidi and Dirk Visagie only to be cruelly crushed days later. Just an hour’s drive from Harare, the Afrikaners were in the office of the district lands officer in small town Chegutu - it was their last, desperate attempt to save their small farm.

Glowering opposite them was Timothy Mudavanhu, a minor functionary of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, who has been plaguing their lives for nine years.

Most of Zimbabwe’s dispossessed 4000 white farmers have endured these supposed arbitrations to defend their livelihoods. Racist abuse is hurled at them by officials and often they are threatened and spat at. Eventually they leave in humiliation - and defeat.

Frank (not his real name), a lands official at Chegutu, flipped through the Visagies’ sheaf of four high court orders affirming their right to Wantage farm. Once issued by a judge, the injunctions are routinely ignored.

Frank looked up. “The matter is clear, “ he said. “The law must take its course.” The Visagies and Mudavanhu were stunned. In 10 years of free-for-all land grabbing there is no record of a lands officer having acted in favour of a white farmer.

Despite Mudavanhu’s shouting, Frank was resolute. He said the meeting was over. Mudavanhu asked if he was being kicked out like a dog. Frank replied: “No. A dog has four legs.”

The Visagies giggled and went home on a high, but victory lasted only 11 days. Mudavanhu returned to Wantage with his rent-a-mob. After going to Harare to see a lawyer the Visagies returned to find the padlock on their gate broken.

Mudavanhu’s lock was in its place and drunks were on the lawn around a bonfire. All the Visagies had was their car, cellphones and the clothes they stood up in.

A call to Frank established that the lands officer had been wrapped over the knuckles. “I have been transferred,” he told them. “Please do not tell anyone you have spoken to me.”

Eventually, with pressure from the South African Embassy - Dirk Visagie is a South African citizen - Mudavanhu was eased out by the deputy sheriff, still bawling that he would be back for “my farm”.

Heidi says she felt nauseous during the bubble, which lasted 11 days. “It was like the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Now I know where we stand.”

She is 38 and a third-generation Zimbabwean. She and her husband, 42, bought Wantage in 2001.

The government gave them a certificate stating the farm was not needed for resettlement. But three months later, Mudavanhu burnt down their citrus orchard.

She has been punched in the face and had a gun to her head. Crops were flattened, the Visagie house emptied. The mob held the gardener’s head underwater in the swimming pool to get the house keys. Her soft-spoken, gentle appearance is deceptive. Mudavanhu once told Visagie that Cecil Rhodes was her uncle. She exploded: “I am an Afrikaner! We went to war against the British, they put my people in concentration camps. Don’t you call me British!”

When the Visagies are left alone they run a thriving operation on their 86-hectare holding which produces 240 tons of tomatoes a year for a nearby cannery. There are also rows of tuberoses, a fragrant lily.

Dirk is a meticulous farmer, his wife says. But every time Mudavanhu ploughs through their crops, it takes something out of you, she says.

Usually her husband puts on a brave face with each onslaught, but last time he gave up. The couple even lost their sense of humour, until a swarm of bees set on Mudavanhu as he was ranting at them.

Dirk has a heart problem, and the stress gives his wife eczema. Each time Mudavanhu takes occupation she moves their belongings to relatives. When he has been fought off, she returns. The unpacking restores her sanity. She was putting away tea cups when I arrived. But she knows Mudavanhu will be back.

SUNDAY TIMES


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/12/2010 at 10:11 PM   
Filed Under: • AfricaJack Booted ThugsStoopid-People •  
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calendar   Friday - September 17, 2010

denied asylum … one lonely score for our side ….  but white farmers still in peril …

Just a quickie I caught only moments ago. A kind of feel good and good for our side if it sticks.

At last, a white judge with guts calls it right and no pc BS.  I’m almost certain this cretin will cry foul and advance the ‘R’ word.
Stay Tuned as usual. But hope the bitch is soon gone.


Woman who took part in violent attacks on white farmers in Zimbabwe denied UK asylum

By David Gardner
Last updated at 8:24 AM on 17th September 2010

A woman who admitted taking part in savage evictions of white farmers from their homes in Zimbabwe lost her bid for asylum after a High Court judge accused her of ‘crimes against humanity.’

Mr Justice Ouseley threw out the widowed mother-of-two’s appeal to remain in the UK after she confessed to beating up ten people during two land invasions.

The judge said the state-sponsored mob violence, which saw white famers’ land seized and shared out among President Robert Mugabe’s cronies, was akin to genocide.

She admitted to being part of a gang of thugs from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party who invaded two white-owned farms intent on causing maximum terror and driving away black workers.

The woman, referred to only as ‘SK”, agreed she had beaten up to ten people whilst their homes burned, ‘inflicting enough pain to get them to run away.’

She said that on one occasion, she beat a woman so badly she thought she would die.

read more

There’s a lot of stories published in magazines here on weekends, about the plight and flight of many farmers and survivor stories about the mindless brutality of the mobs.  These aren’t recent arrivals to that country either. We’re talking about framers and families that have been there for generations.  They may speak English but have known no other country as home. They were born there. And the darkies sure don’t have the ability to run farms on the same scale, as they have shown.  Of course, with white farms in decline, guess what happens to the food chain?  Oh wait. No problem.  Some rock/pop star will throw another aid for concert and all will be well.  And we’ll be asked to donate yet again (not that I ever do and never have) with photos of starving children.
I am unmoved.  I’ve been seeing those pix for 50 years and nothing has changed.  Let em eat grass.


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 09/17/2010 at 10:43 AM   
Filed Under: • AfricaJack Booted Thugs •  
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calendar   Sunday - April 04, 2010

the grand unveiling

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine

Dakar, Senegal



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Senegal on Saturday unveiled a colossal statue during a lavish ceremony amid reports of criticism over the monument’s construction at a time when the western African nation is struggling financially.

The 164-foot structure—about a foot taller than the Statue of Liberty—shows the figures of a man, a woman and a child, arms outstretched, facing the Atlantic Ocean.

President Abdoulaye Wade says the statue, which he designed, is a monument to Africa’s renaissance. Critics say the opulent copper structure is merely the product of the president’s own self-indulgent vision and poor governance.

Oh, the objections are more than that. They’re more like a laundry list

Senegal is the westernmost country in Africa. It sits “at the back of the elephant’s ear” of the continent. Dakar is the westernmost city in the country. This statue does not stand at the westernmost point in the city. That’s a small isthmus a mile to the northwest where a rather run down Club Med resides for the surfers who come to ride the waves just off the coast. Instead, this new Colossus of Wade stands not astride the harbor, but between the ends of the two main runways to Dakar’s international airport. Thus it will be the first and last thing any airborne tourist sees in Dakar. Situated along the north end of the controversial - and only - 4 lane highway in the city, the Route de la Corniche Ouest, that separates the beachfront properties from the slums, and right by Avenue Cheik Anta Diop, this grand copper edifice commands one of the choicer parcels of land in the city, rising on a hill right over the Mosque de la Divinite, a few hundred yards to the southeast. (un?)Fortunately, as the child in the man’s arms points west, the view from the mosque is not an upskirt of the copper lady’s wind blown bit of wrapping, but the back side of the “volcano” the family is rising up from.

Senegal has been independent for 50 years now, and that fact is celebrated by this giant statue. That, and the generalized notion that Africa in general is rising up, growing up, and ready to meet the future head on. Ok, it also represents whatever anybody reads into it, like Jesse Jackson.

“This renaissance statue is a powerful idea from a powerful mind,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson in remarks to the crowd of hundreds waving flags at the foot of the lighted monument. “This is dedicated to the journey of our ancestors, enslaved but not slaves.”

Sure Jesse, if you say so. I wonder if the little kid isn’t pointing back to Columbia, where all the cocaine that fuels Senegal’s economy is coming from. Or else he’s pointing the way towards the new world - “daddy, jobs and food, that way!” while pop grabs his woman and skedaddles.

Anyway, it’s a great honking thing, it’s got everybody in western Africa all wound up, and it was officially unveiled yesterday. Next time you’re in Senegal, stop by for a visit.



But oh, the drama. The controversy! Egad.

Senegal yesterday kicked off ceremonies to inaugurate a contested statue marking 50 years of independence after thousands marched to demand the president resign over the multi-million dollar monument.

President Abdoulaye Wade was joined by scores of dignitaries, including African heads of state and representatives from around the world, at the base of the bronze colossus, which is higher than the US Statue of Liberty.

Situated on a hill overlooking Dakar, the North Korean-built monument - whose cost is estimated at more than €15 million - has been attacked as a wasteful extravagance in hard economic times.

Riot police patrolled nearby streets earlier in the day as demonstrators held up banners demanding the president’s resignation.

“The people demand ethical governance and reject the gangster management of the Wade clan,” read one placard.

Deputy opposition leader Ndeye Fatou Toure said the statue was an “economic monster and a financial scandal in the context of the current crisis,” in a country where half the population lives below the poverty line.

Championed by Wade, the 50-metre monument has caused a mixture of anger over its cost, and bewilderment over its style.

It depicts a muscular man emerging from a volcano with a scantily clad woman in tow and holding a baby aloft in his left arm, pointing West towards the Ocean.

DAKAR (Reuters) - Soaring above the Dakar skyline, the nearly finished monument to the African Renaissance in Senegal’s capital is billed as a symbol of Africa’s rise from “centuries of ignorance, intolerance and racism”.

But critics of the bronze family of man, woman and infant—at 50 metres tall just higher than New York’s Statue of Liberty—say it only goes to show that even one of the continent’s strongest democracies must put up with the whims of its rulers.

President Abdoulaye Wade, who has long styled himself a champion of the poor on the world stage, sparked the furore by declaring himself the “intellectual owner” of the monument and so entitled to a 35 percent cut from future tourist revenues.

Wade, 83, who is expected to seek another term in office at elections in 2012, said the monument commemorated the entire continent. “It brings to life our common destiny,” Reuters reported him saying at the launch ceremony. “Africa has arrived in the 21st century standing tall and more ready than ever to take its destiny into its hands.”

Wade has faced criticism for spending so much money on the structure when Dakar residents living in its shadow endure regular power blackouts and flooding. He has angered both Senegal’s Christian minority and some within the Muslim majority population.

Wade apologised to the former group after likening the monument to Christ, while some imams have condemned the Soviet realist-style statue as idolatrous. Other have expressed concern at the thigh-length hemline skirt worn by the female figure.

Not only criticised for its enormous cost, the figure has also been slated by the country’s majority Muslim community, who disagree with works which take on a human form.

People are so frustrated by this,” says opposition leader Abdoulaye Bathily.

Bathily says the statue is the product of a power-drunk president. “The economy has collapsed. ... The education system is in a crisis. The health system is in crisis. And yet Abdoulaye Wade is squandering public money,” Bathily says. “So all these things, people are seeing it, and it is creating so much frustration.”

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Dreams vs. Reality



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Architect’s vision of the completed colossus


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/04/2010 at 05:08 PM   
Filed Under: • AfricaArchitecture •  
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calendar   Tuesday - March 09, 2010

Africa Sucks, Part 4261

I really don’t want to run this story. Not only is it awful, it’s awfully repetitive. How many times have we seen essentially the same thing happen? What is it with the people on this continent? Tribalism? In the modern world? It’s hard to accept that any one person could be this brutal, much less a whole village or tribe full. Or several tribes full.

And yet ... here we go again.



500 murdered in one night



Nigeria’s security forces have been put on high alert after a new burst of sectarian violence left over 500 people dead, most of them women and children hacked to death by machete wielding gangs.

The attack happened before dawn on Sunday morning when gangs of men descended on several mainly Christian villages near the central city of Jos, firing guns as they approached. Witnesses of the attack, which centred on the village of Dogo-Nahawa, described how victims were caught in animal traps and fishing nets as they tried to flee their attackers.

A resident of Dogo-Nahawa said that the attackers had fired guns as they entered the village, to lure their victims out of their houses. “The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes,” said Peter Gyang, who lost his wife and two children .

Dan Manjang, a state government advisor, confirmed that 500 people had been killed. “We have been able to make 95 arrests but at the same time over 500 people have been killed in this heinous act ... by Fulani herdsmen,” Mr Manjang said in a telephone interview.

An aid worker with the Christian charity Stefanus Foundation, Mark Lipdo, told the BBC he went to the villages of Zot and Dogo-Nahawa after daylight on Sunday and recorded the names of 77 victims. He said that there were at least two dozen more bodies. “We saw mainly those who are helpless, like small children and then the older men, who cannot run, these were the ones that were slaughtered,” he said, adding that Zot had been almost wiped out.

An unnamed government official said that over 100 people had been killed, mostly women and children. ”Some of the children are less than one year old,” he added.

But analysts said that the attack seemed to be in reprisal for the violent clashes in Jos between Christians and Muslims in January, which claimed the lives of at least 300 people and displaced thousands of others.

...

This central region of Nigeria had been a regular ethnic and religious flashpoint.  [ no kidding. I’d call it more of an ongoing fireball. ]

...

In November 2008, the federal government sent in the troops after Christians and Muslims fought each other using firearms and machetes in clashes that followed a contested election in Jos.

Official figures put the death toll [ for that fight then ] at 200, but rights groups Human Rights Watch said it was more than 700.

Lovely place. Lovely locals. Charming culture. Remind me to visit ... on the 12th of NEVER.  At least 1000 dead in 3 major incidents in just 16 moths. And who knows how many more died in minor skirmishes, random individual murders, and mysterious disappearances.

Muslims vs. Christians? Or is it that one tribal group is one faith, and their enemy tribal group is another faith, and both tribes just continue to murder in the most heinous ways possible. Keep the vendetta going forever. Because that’s their way, and they’ll never change.

The killings add to the tally of thousands who have already perished in Africa’s most populous country in the last decade due to religious and political frictions. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people. Muslim-Christian battles killed up to 700 people in 2004. More than 300 residents died during a similar uprising in 2008.

“In the last decade”? Please. It never stops. It’s forever. Anybody old enough to remember the genocide in Biafra? That happened when I was a kid. Guess where Biafra is? (or was?) In Nigeria. 1967. 100,000 dead in battle, and 2 million dead by torture, reprisals, and starvation. At the hands of the Fulani. It can’t just be “blood for oil”.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/09/2010 at 03:00 AM   
Filed Under: • AfricaReligion •  
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calendar   Monday - February 08, 2010

Mau Mau claims of British brutality are the reverse of the truth. By a man who was there.

Many of you may recall the vermin known as the Mau-Mau many years ago.  If you don’t, you’re quite young.
The left and especially and most unfortunately in America, began to see these murderous butchers as freedom fighters. But then, the left would. Wouldn’t they?  They (the left in America and even some who weren’t left) didn’t approve of “empire” or colonial possessions and so for many, the killings were you might say, the price paid for colonialism.  Well maybe. But NOT on the scale and in the manner as practiced by the stone aged verminous Mau-Mau. 

Now, all these years later in an age of political correctness and diversity and multi culture crap along with easy litigation, some of the stone age veterans have discovered the 20th century and want to sue the Brits claiming their “human rights” were violated by England.

In order to have those kind of rights one would necessarily have to be a human to begin with.  Vermin may have some of the attributes of a human but you don’t have to look very close to find they are not that at all. 

If the Brits had a failing, it was the failure to exterminate the entire tribe to the last living or near living life form.

It’s a long article but well worth your time. Also please see the comments after the article.

That’s all for me for tonight. 


Why Mau Mau claims of British brutality are the reverse of the truth, by a man who fought them

By Tim Symonds

To have survived so long - avoiding people like me, determined to hunt him down - meant he was immensely resourceful. I fired a shot about four inches above his head. Prodding the prisoner forward, I showed him where the bullet had passed clean through the trunk of a large tree.

‘Next one goes through your skull,’ I said. He began to shake uncontrollably. ‘Kill him,’ my Masai askaris, or ‘soldiers’, chorused. ‘Kill him. He’s Mau Mau.’

‘Please, believe me. I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he pleaded.

My principal Masai tracker shook his head and drew his finger across his throat. ‘He’s lying, Effendi. Kill him.’

I lowered my gun level with his head and slowly began to squeeze the trigger…

It was 1955 and the ‘Kenyan Emergency’, which began in 1952 and lasted until the end of the decade, was at its height. The Mau Mau were rebels against British rule. Most of them were drawn from the Kikuyu, Kenya’s biggest tribe, and they practised primitive sacrifice and murder.

n October 1954, about 60 Mau Mau guerrillas had attacked the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey’s cousin, Gray Leakey, strangling his wife in front of him and then hauling him away to the Mt Kenya Crown Forest to sacrifice to their fearsome and demanding god.

We heard later that they cut open his stomach, yanked out his intestines and buried him in a pit upside-down, alive, facing the jagged peak of Mt Kenya where their deity lived.

I thought of myself as the perfect foot-soldier of the Empire, hunting the Mau Mau. When I crossed the forest verge I entered their twilight world - a world outside of civilisation, in which different rules applied.

Looking back over half a century, from the perspective of the modern world, those rules seem stark, even brutal. But this is what I experienced as a young man in the dying days of Empire.

HERE FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE ARTICLE

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 02/08/2010 at 07:02 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - January 26, 2010

Africa Sucks

Human sacrifice almost common in Uganda

“Witches" burned throughout Africa



Moving to the 7th century would be a HUGE LEAP FORWARD for these stone agers


A BBC investigation into human sacrifice in Uganda has heard first-hand accounts which suggest ritual killings of children may be more common than authorities have acknowledged.

One witch-doctor led us to his secret shrine and said he had clients who regularly captured children and brought their blood and body parts to be consumed by spirits.

Meanwhile, a former witch-doctor who now campaigns to end child sacrifice confessed for the first time to having murdered about 70 people, including his own son.

The Ugandan government told us that human sacrifice is on the increase, and according to the head of the country’s Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce the crime is directly linked to rising levels of development and prosperity, and an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people get rich quickly.

“They capture other people’s children. They bring the heart and the blood directly here to take to the spirits… They bring them in small tins and they place these objects under the tree from which the voices of the spirits are coming,” he said.

Asked how often clients brought blood and body parts, the witch-doctor said they came “on average three times a week - with all that the spirits demand from them.”

Plenty more at this link, as well as a disturbing 15 minute video. And sidebar links to similar articles about Kenya, Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Gambia, Guinea, and the DR Congo.

What was that about “all cultures are equal”? No. No they are not. These are at the very bottom of the barrel. And you can’t blame whitey for any of this crap. Not a jot of it. Now, if this news article was dated 1650 that would be one thing. Or maybe even 1840. But it’s not. It’s only 2 weeks old. And none of these areas have been living in total isolation from the rest of the world for the past few centuries. Every one of them was colonized and run by Europeans for the past several hundred years. It isn’t that they don’t know better. It isn’t that the entire rest of the world hasn’t been there for hundreds of years trying to teach them morality. They all have modern technology to some extent. So I can’t accept the “primitive culture” reasoning. There are no primitive cultures by happenstance any more. They are primitive by choice. Animist and animalistic. Barbarism would be an improvement. This isn’t one small isolated group in one area. It’s a multinational horror story, a way of life practiced by tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people. Thankfully it isn’t the entirety of these cultures. At least some folks there are against it. And while some elements of these societies are doing what they can to fight it, in northern Uganda human sacrifice is on the rise.

Blaming mistakes and misfortune on evil spirits and spells cast by witches is common in Africa. Burn the witch doctors alive when things go bad, but run to them with bloody hands when you need some hlep. And as these nations slowly move towards the modern world, providing a blood sacrifice to a witch doctor to ensure the prosperity of your business is becoming frequent. Even the Ugandan government minister of ethics and integrity believes in evil spirits, though he doesn’t approve of the other leaders in his government consulting witch doctors on a regular basis. It’s a mess.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/26/2010 at 08:45 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - December 22, 2009

Tiz the season to be giving?  What have politicians done for them? Zilch.

Ran across this a few days ago, found it quite interesting and thought our readers might too.

Nothing to add from me so posting without comment.

From The Times
December 19, 2009

In the 50 years since I was in Malawi as a young boy, life in most African villages has not changed in the slightest

Matthew Parris

Before leaving Britain for Central Africa earlier this month, I saw the news that Gordon Brown was to place on the table at Copenhagen more than £1 billion in British aid to developing countries, to help them to combat climate change. The offer sounded generous. But could we, I wondered, ever really monitor how the money was spent? Could we micromanage its distribution? Alternatively, could we trust recipient governments to spend it for us?
In Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, where I landed three days ago, I passed a prominent sign on the outskirts of the city, notifying the public of the offices to which a driveway led. It read: “Capacity-building for non-government actors.”
“What does that mean?” I said to my companion, a well-educated Malawian woman with fluent English.
“We don’t know,” she said. “We’ve been trying to find out. We think it might be something to do with training for charity workers.” She paused, then added, half to herself: “They are talking to themselves.”

They are trying to say training for charity workers without using the words training, charity or workers.
I find myself making an unexpected connection between that exchange with my Malawian companion and an earlier conversation she had had with our Malawian driver.
“I say!” he had called to her, to gain her attention. The rest of their conversation was conducted in their shared language of Chichewa, but “I say!” had caught my ear.
I’ve heard it used in Malawi before and since. It means almost what it used to when employed by the officer class in Britain: something between “Look here”, “Do I have your attention?” and “Gosh”. It has almost certainly came into the local idiom via our colonial officers in the days when Malawi was the British Protectorate of Nyasaland.

My uncle was a forestry officer in the central region of the country, and to stay with him one Christmas I travelled on my own by train (a great three-day adventure) from what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), via Mozambique, 50 years ago. Now I am back here in the sub-Sahara: a subcontinent I know well. This time I’m travelling under my own steam, with friends, in true rural Africa, a land I love.

Malawi is a friendly, safe and gentle country, welcoming to strangers, and not by African standards notably inefficient or corrupt. But what strikes me most — more than any of the changes I see in the cities — is how little has changed in the lives of the vast majority of the people of Africa, who live on the land. Fifty years ago “I say” had entered the lingo, and if overseas aid remains centre-stage here for much longer, perhaps “capacity-building” may pop up in the Chichewa language too, as part of the idiom, along with a new political language of Africanisation that independence has brought. All else remains the same.

During the half-century in which Harold Macmillan’s winds of change have blown themselves — in political terms — into a gale, half a century in which revolutions both violent and peaceful have thrown off the yoke of six great European empires and all the colours of the countries on the map have changed, half a century of tremendous political struggle, half a century about which it would be possible to fill a whole library with works of political science describing, analysing and disputing the processes of imperialism, decolonisation and liberation ... during the half-century between what I saw when I was 10 and what I see now at 60, life in the average African rural village is unaltered.

As a little boy I spent a week alone with my young brother staying in a remote village in Mashonaland in Rhodesia. My mother had organised this through an African friend, believing her children should know how other people live. That was 1959. This week I returned to a small village near Lake Malawi, where I went last November to write (for The Times Christmas Appeal) about the work of a small British charity. I am not exaggerating when I say, without qualification, that nothing — nothing — has changed for better or worse or at all, in village life. You could rewind the video 50 years and you would not spot a single feature that placed us in 2009 rather than 1959 — none, that is, except the lines of my face. Oh, there is, perhaps, one: the new pumps we were installing are of a more primitive design than the 19th-century style lever-pumps that used to be installed in colonial days, as these often proved too complicated to maintain in remote areas in Africa.

I do not, from this, conclude that colonialism was good, or that African independence has been bad. No, they have both proved largely irrelevant, hardly scratching the surface.
When we British marvel at how so small a nation managed to govern so much of so large a continent, with so few colonial officers on the ground, we overlook the fact that we weren’t really governing at all. We were just there. We were marching around, building and mending a few (rather bad) roads, policing (after a fashion) with the help of tribal chiefs and elders, and generally flying the flag. And on the whole, and for some time, the locals couldn’t be bothered to remove us.

Modern African governments in most African cities — so far as their rural hinterlands are concerned — are just there too: strutting around a bit too; mending a few bridges; sticking up signs announcing plans and schemes; jetting off around the world (as our Colonial Service sailed or flew back and forth) and suppressing opposition as our colonial predecessors did. Primary education has spread, but most rural children never go on to secondary school, and if they did there would be no jobs for them. Infant mortality remains, as it always was, unbelievably high.

From this we should perhaps draw no conclusion at all: for or against Africa. We should instead observe that in large parts of the world, and for billions more of our fellow human beings than it suits us political obsessives to acknowledge, politics hardly matters.

SOURCE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/22/2009 at 04:01 PM   
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meaningless marching orders for a thousand travellers ... strife ahead ..
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Tracked at Casual Blog
[...] RTS. IF ANYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE IS CONSTRUED AS BEING CONTRARY TO THE LAWS APPL [...]
On: 07/17/17 08:28

a small explanation
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at yerba mate gourd
Find here top quality how to prepare yerba mate without a gourd that's available in addition at the best price. Get it now!
On: 07/09/17 07:07

The Real Stuff
(2 total trackbacks)
Tracked at Candy Blog
[...] LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ALL PARTIES IRREVOCABLY SUBMIT TO THE J [...]
On: 06/11/17 10:40

when rape isn't rape but only sexual assault
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at Trouser Blog
[...] took another century of Inquisition and repression to completely eradicate the [...]
On: 06/07/17 03:37



DISCLAIMER
Allanspacer

THE SERVICES AND MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE HOSTS OF THIS SITE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF SATISFACTORY QUALITY, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICE OR ANY MATERIALS.

Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

THE INFORMATION AND OTHER CONTENTS OF THIS WEBSITE ARE DESIGNED TO COMPLY WITH THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THIS WEBSITE SHALL BE GOVERNED BY AND CONSTRUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ALL PARTIES IRREVOCABLY SUBMIT TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE AMERICAN COURTS. IF ANYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE IS CONSTRUED AS BEING CONTRARY TO THE LAWS APPLICABLE IN ANY OTHER COUNTRY, THEN THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE ACCESSED BY PERSONS FROM THAT COUNTRY AND ANY PERSONS WHO ARE SUBJECT TO SUCH LAWS SHALL NOT BE ENTITLED TO USE OUR SERVICES UNLESS THEY CAN SATISFY US THAT SUCH USE WOULD BE LAWFUL.


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GNU Terry Pratchett


Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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