Archive for January, 2007

This makes me proud to be an African!

January 30, 2007

From the Mail&Guardian

Sudan lost the leadership of the African Union for a second time after the pan-African group on Monday awarded the rotating chair to Ghana because of widespread outrage over continuing bloodshed in Darfur.

Alpha Oumar Konare, the AU’s top diplomat, told reporters Ghanaian President John Kufuor would become chairperson. “By consensus it is President Kufuor.”

He said Sudan had supported the decision, which avoided a damaging dispute eclipsing issues on the summit agenda, including raising peacekeeping troops for Somalia.

Before the summit, some analysts had predicted the dispute over Sudan would dominate the summit and only be resolved at the last moment.

Delegates at the summit said a deal was worked out through the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki and a group of seven respected presidents or “wise men”.

The 2007 chair was promised to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir a year ago when he was passed over for the post because of the violence in Darfur, which experts estimate has killed 200 000 people and driven 2,5-million from their homes.

Critics say that far from abating, the violence has worsened in the last year and government-backed Arab militias have killed thousands. Bashir has repeatedly blocked deployment of United Nations peacekeepers to bolster an overstretched AU military mission of 7 000 soldiers and monitors.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters: “Sudan attended this meeting and the presidency went to Ghana. Sudan withdrew.”

Under fire
Sudan had seemed adamant on the eve of the summit that it should get the chair, despite a chorus of demands from rights organisations and Western governments that it be snubbed because of abuses in Darfur.

But as the summit began in the Ethiopian capital, pressure rose to prevent Sudan from running the organisation whose peacekeepers are charged with stemming the violence in its vast west.

In his opening speech, Konare accused Khartoum of attacking civilians in Darfur, where the United States says genocide has occurred.

“We appeal to the government of Sudan to stop attacking and bombarding Darfur and instead restore peace,” he said.

Rights group Amnesty International said in a statement on the eve of the two-day summit that the AU would undermine its credibility if it gave the chair to Bashir.

Chad, whose relations with Sudan are severely strained after the Darfur conflict spilled over its border, had vowed to withdraw from the AU if Bashir got the chair.

Diplomats said Western governments lobbied vigorously in Addis Ababa against Sudan and had earlier suggested Tanzania might be a compromise candidate.

Delegates said there had been trenchant opposition to Sudan from some of the governments and a compromise over Ghana, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence in 2007, offered a way out of the dilemma supported by consensus — the traditional African way of resolving disputes.

“How can you ask someone who is dealing with their own internal conflict to deal with all the other issues going on the continent?,” one African delegate said.


Plane Surfing

January 30, 2007

I heard this news today, oh boy!

Could this be an extension of the practice of train surfing featured on Special Assignment last year? 

From the CAPE TIMES:

January 30, 2007 Edition 2

LOS ANGELES: A youth carrying South African documents has been found dead in the wheel well of a British Airways jet at Los Angeles International Airport.

Authorities were yesterday investigating whether the dead stowaway, described as a young black male, got into the plane at its previous stop in London or at an earlier stop in Hong Kong. The body was discovered by the plane’s pilot during a routine preflight check on Sunday afternoon. It was one of several incidents in recent years of people climbing into aircraft wheel wells.

The cases usually end in death because of extreme cold and lack of oxygen. Even if stowaways do survive the cold, they usually fall out of the wheel wells when the landing gear’s doors open, plunging hundreds of metres to their death.

Quite an Exercise!

January 29, 2007


By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor Fri Jan 26, 10:13 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Eating less and exercising more are equally good at helping take off the pounds, U.S. researchers said on Friday in a study that challenges many of the popular tenets of the multibillion dollar diet and fitness industry.

Tests on overweight people show that a calorie is just a calorie, whether lost by dieting or by running, they said.

They found there is no way to selectively lose belly fat, for instance, or trim thighs. And their carefully controlled study added to evidence that adding muscle mass does not somehow boost metabolism and help dieters take off even more weight.

“It’s all about the calories,” said Dr. Eric Ravussin of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, part of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

“So long as the energy deficit is the same, body weight, fat weight, and abdominal fat will all decrease in the same way.”

Ravussin said the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, is one of the few done under controlled conditions that can actually demonstrate what happens to a human body while dieting and exercising.

Ravussin’s team has been testing volunteers for another reason — to see if taking in fewer calories helps people live longer. Strict diets have been shown to help animals from worms to dogs live longer, but it takes longer to study monkeys and humans.

They tested 24 people, 12 who ate a calorie-restricted diet, and 12 who dieted and also exercised five times a week for six months.

The dieters ate 25 percent less than normal, while the exercisers reduced their calorie intake by 12.5 percent and increased their physical activity to lose an extra 12.5 percent in calories.

Another 10 volunteers acted as controls. All food was provided by the university in carefully measured portions for most of the study.

The volunteers in both groups lost about 10 percent of their body weight, 24 percent of their fat mass, and 27 percent of their abdominal visceral fat. Visceral fat is packed in between the internal organs and is considered the most dangerous type of fat, linked with heart disease and diabetes.

The distribution of the fat on the body was not altered by either approach — helping prove that there is no such thing as “spot reducing,” Ravussin said in a telephone interview.

This suggests that “individuals are genetically programmed for fat storage in a particular pattern and that this programming cannot easily be overcome,” he added.

Ravussin has published other studies that also dispute the idea that exercise builds muscle that helps people lose weight.

“If anything, highly trained people are highly efficient, so they burn fewer calories at rest,” Ravussin said.

Dieting alone also did not appear to cause the volunteers to lose muscle mass along with fat, Ravussin’s team found.

“There is a concept that if you exercise, you are going to lose less of your muscle,” he said. But his team found no evidence this is true.

Ravussin believes exercise is crucial to health, however.

“For overall health, an appropriate program of diet and exercise is still the best,” he said.

His team found some small suggestion that cutting 25 percent of calories by either diet or diet and exercise might extend life.

“We found that 2 of the biomarkers of aging were improved — core temperature was 0.4 to 0.5 degrees C less,” he said. “Insulin, which has been shown to be a biomarker of aging, was reduced,” Ravussin said. That finding was published in the

Journal of the American Medical Association last April

What every Dad wants to hear…

January 25, 2007

“I’ll love you more than Mom”.

But wait, there’s more: “If you buy me a diving suit with a weight belt.”

That was said by Noah yesterday. I wonder if he’ll say the same when I do get around to buying him a diving suit at age 15. Only ten years to go.

Some people measure out their lives in coffee spoons, others in their children’s laughter.

I walked with Jody to the shops at about nine o’ clock last night. He held on tightly to me with his head resting on my shoulder. Maybe he was a bit scared of the dark, so he was happy to have his Dad to hold. We didn’t say a word. He fell asleep in the shop. The return trip was agony for me, having a heavy bag of groceries in the other hand, and not being able to switch very easily.

Here they are, again:

noah4.jpg                     jody_serious.jpg

‘Naught bru!

January 24, 2007

We went above Camp’s Bay last night to witness this spectacular spectacle: McNaught’s comet. After keeping my eyes peeled for a while, it appeared out of nowhere, just after 20h30. Yet it was huge against the sky. It eclipsed the moon by many degrees, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Comets are ancient, but still move flippin’ fast, hey!

It would have made for a rather romantic date, but we had the kids along. This morning they woke up all excited, talking about the fire engines they had seen whizzing by…

Jody did ask about something he called “veeshis” last night. I figured out finally that he was thinking of Venus.

Here is a picture of the comet:


Pretty, hey?

This tale has two heads

January 23, 2007

There is a homeless-looking man who occassionally passes our house, and he is very grateful when we offer him some things. He has a large swelling on his forehead, so Noah calls him “Mr. Plum”. I don’t know if the reasons are obvious?

Last week, Mr. Plum received some peanut butter sandwiches, amongst other things. Noah began screeching about why Mr. Plum had to receive food, while he, Noah, was waiting for his. Of course, our reply was along the lines of – maybe if he, Noah, as was grateful for a peanut butter sandwich as Mr. Plum, then we might want to rush and make food for Noah.
To which the obvious reply from him: “But I hate peanut butter”!!!

Aaah, kids, you gotta love them.

Or else you’d drown them in the pool.

Which brings me to the next head of this tale: my own. After work last Thursday, I jumped in the pool to swim with Noah and Jody. Noah normally dives in after me. Then Jody comes running at high speed, and stops at the edge of the pool, waiting to jump into my arms. This time, Noah is distractingly throwing water in my eyes so that I can’t see Jody. So I turn to him to say – stoppit, safety first – for the three hundredth and twelfth time this summer. As I turn back to catch Jody, I catch him, you guessed it, ‘plum’ on my forehead, as Jody has leapt before I looked.

Within about the time it took me to get out of the pool, screaming at youknowwho at the top of my voice, my own plum had formed above my right eye. Mercifully Jody was not too badly injured. And the angle of impact prevented drowning. But I could so easily have drowned the distractor…

I have pictures which I’ll try to paste here. But perhaps they are not suitable for public consumption.

E-News: Accidental-E

January 18, 2007

The mystery has been solved, the search is over. Put away your microscopes, telescopes, stethoscopes and assorted paraphenalia and pharmaceuticals. Following on last year’s report of ,

I am happy to announce that we now have a brand spanking new silvery ‘E’ attached to the butt end of the Mercedes. How this happy circumstance happened to chance itself was due to an accident involving the butt end of the aforementioned Mercedes and the front end of a Golden Arrow bus. Luckily no one was seriously injured. Strangely, the accidental incident affected that part of the vehicle lacking in E. As though ‘e knew what it was doing. 

Now to effect an accident so the rear, right window can get fixed…

A Strategy for Jacob Zuma

January 16, 2007

1. Plead Guilty to the Scorpions charge, or a lesser one (based on avoiding the costs of courtroom appearance).

2. Accept a prison period of up to 24 months.

3. Follow the Yengeni ‘quick step’ to freedom, within one sixth of the jail term.

4. Get released in mid – 2007.

5. Get ready for presidential nomination.

6. Presidentially retro-pardon yourself.

Just when you thought it was safe to surf the web again…

January 15, 2007

The One who is your Rod returns, in his own inimitable, newly updated ‘007 style. Striking fear into the hearts of all thinking persons everywhere…