Friday, November 23, 2007

Food prices: Africa shows first signs of trouble

Recent violent unrest over soaring food prices in several West African nations points to new signs of trouble on a continent where nearly half the people live on a dollar a day, experts warn.After Mauritania and Morocco, Senegal this week was the latest country hit by violent protests.The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation chief Jacques Diouf last month warned of a "risk of social and political troubles in Third World nations in the months or years to come" due to the global rise in cereal prices."Soaring international prices have obviously had much more impact in the countries that depend a lot on imports for their [food] needs," UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson for West Africa Stephanie Savariaud told Agence France-Presse.The mounting demand for biofuels and escalating prices of fossil fuels mean farmers cultivate less food in preference of fast cash-spinning biofuel crops.And the internationally rising oil prices are reflected in imported food costs."The growing demand for biofuels and the high prices of fossil fuel have a dramatic impact on millions of people," said Savariaud."Food prices in Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal shot up steeply in 2007," she said, citing countries that depend heavily on imported staples.In the vast and arid Mauritania, where national cereal output is less than 30% of needs, the price of imported flour shot up nearly 100% -- from $200 per ton last year to $360 in September, according to WFP.Shops there were vandalised and torched earlier this month to protest spiralling food prices, leaving one person dead and 17 wounded.In Morocco, about 50 people were injured during September food protests.Escalating food prices have affected almost every nation on the continent, but so far without sparking the kind of violent outbreaks witnessed in West Africa, home to the greatest number of the world's most poverty-stricken countries.Chances of controlling the high food bills are not easy in the short term, warned FAO chief of Global Information and Early Warning System, Henri Josserand."It is something that cannot be changed quickly," he said."Prospects are not good for countries that strongly rely on imports because in the short-to-medium term, we forecast that food prices will remain extremely firm, at least in the next 10 years," Josserand said.Countries are therefore left with no choice but to change dietary habits by substituting imports with local produce, said Josserand. But home-grown food production is also threatened by climate change, with the continent facing desertification and in cases oscillating between extreme conditions of droughts and floods.Climate change might mean African countries that depend on rain for food production would harvest half their normal output 12 years from now, WFP chief Josette Sheeran warned during a visit to West Africa last week.Climate change, rising food prices and population growth could combine to create a "perfect storm" on the continent, she said.Already in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, three-quarters of the 60-million people don't have enough food and 1,5-million are actually facing hunger, according to WFP.And so far, the leading coping mechanism is hunger.From Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa to Southern Africa's worst-hit Zimbabwe, already buckling under the world's highest inflation rate, families have no option but to skip a meal or two a day in an effort to stretch the little available. -- Sapa-AFP

This is biblical ---- Famine will take 1/3

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Russian Military Chief Calls America "Evil"

'Russias top military chief has dubbed America "evil" while cautioning that the "insidious" U.S. missile defense shield weapons system has nothing to do with countering Iran and is aimed squarely at Moscow, as tensions continue to heat between the two superpowers.';

Russian Military Chief Calls America "Evil" Baluyevsky says U.S. missile defense is aimed at Moscow as tensions rise
Prison Planet November 13, 2007 Paul Joseph Watson
Russia's top military chief has dubbed America "evil" while cautioning that the "insidious" U.S. missile defense shield weapons system has nothing to do with countering Iran and is aimed squarely at Moscow, as tensions continue to heat between the two superpowers.
The Chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen. Yury Baluyevsky told Russia Today , an English-language state TV channel, that Washington's plans to place a radar in the Czech Republic and ten missile interceptors in Poland supposedly to counter Iran was just a pretext to deploy weaponry close to Russia's borders.
"If the Americans deploy the radar by 2011 and anti-ballistic missiles by 2012-2013, they will certainly be directed against Russia, and we can easily prove it," said Baluyevsky.
(Article Continues Below)

"There will be no Iranian threat to the United States in the near future. Iran will be unable to create intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States until at least 2020," he added.
In the same interview , Baluyevsky labeled America as "evil" and swore to defend Russian military interests while absolving Russia of the responsibility of defending the rest of the world against American imperialism.
"Today, there is no need to be afraid of the Russian Armed Forces. However, I do not believe that the Russian military is obliged to defend the world from the evil Americans," he said.
Baluyevsky's inflammatory comments are likely to sour increasingly hostile relations between Washington and Moscow and they come just a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin compared the Pentagon's plan to deploy weapons in central Europe to the Soviet Union's 1962 deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Soviet plan for WW3 nuclear attack unearthed

Soviet plan for WW3 nuclear attack unearthedBy Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated: 3:54am BST 21/09/2007
Chilling Soviet plans to launch massive nuclear strikes in Europe followed by a ground offensive in Germany and southern France have been unearthed by a Nato historian.

Soviet troops were to storm across Europe
According to scenarios drafted in 1964, Warsaw Pact forces planned to use 131 tactical nuclear missiles and bombs to sideline NATO armaments and destroy Western Europe’s political and communications centres, in the event of an “imperialist” strike.
In an alarming insight into the “Doctor Strangelove” mindset of Soviet strategists, the Czechoslovak People’s Army, CSLA, was then expected to immediately march over deadly radioactive landscape and invade Nuremburg, Stuttgart and Munich, then bastions of West Germany.
On the ninth day the troops would take Lyon, south eastern France.
Soviet reinforcements would then continue the offensive towards the Pyrenees in the west.

Historian Petr Lunak from NATO’s information office in Brussels, found the 17-page Warsaw Pact plan while sifting through declassified communist-era documents in Prague’s military archives.
“Russians outlined the general (war) plan, while the (leaders of) individual Warsaw Pact armies prepared precise military blueprints, with details on front lines, deployment of troops and arms,” said Mr Lunak.
The text, written in Russian and entitled CSLA Plan of Action for a War Period, was signed by the Czech defence minister of the time and carried president Antonin Novotny’s stamp of approval.
According to Mr Lunak, the plan was still an option until 1986, three years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was shelved by Vaclav Havel in 1990 when he was elected Czech president.
While most Western planners were convinced that any first strike would lead to total mutual destruction, the plan - written in matter-of-fact language - shows that Warsaw Pact nations presumed a massive ground war would follow nuclear attacks.
Mr Lunak described the military plans as “fairy tale” thinking based on World War II warfare: “They (the Soviets) really planned to send ground troops out in the field and have them fight for a few days until they died from radiation,” he said.
The final draft of the invasion plan was completed under Soviet Communist Party chief Nikita Khrushchev, shortly after the 1961 Cuban missile crisis, when the United States and the Soviet Union had teetered on the brink of war.
According to the Prague documents, Moscow’s commanders fully expected western “imperialists” to make the first nuclear strike.
Mr Lunak includes the plans, as well as interviews with Czech generals of the time in his book, Planning the Unthinkable: Czechoslovak War Plans, 1950-1990.
The first English translation of the text was published earlier this month by the Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security, which analyses and publishes declassified NATO and Warsaw Pact archives.
Vojtech Mastny, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., who coordinates the project, said the 1964 document is the first such detailed war plan to come to light. “There’s no doubt that the plan would have been used if the green light was given from above - the political leadership of the communist bloc,” he said.

Russia abandons arms treaty

Russia abandons arms treaty

Geskryf deur Yahoonews
Saterdag, 17 November 2007
The Russian senate voted Friday to suspend compliance with a key Cold War treaty limiting conventional military forces across Europe, drawing renewed Western criticism.The unanimous vote in the upper house Federation Council followed last week's decision in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, to freeze Moscow's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty from December 12.The 1990 CFE treaty places strict limitations on the deployment of tanks and other military hardware across Europe.President Vladimir Putin ordered the moratorium on July 13 amid a row over US plans to install an anti-missile shield in eastern Europe.In a statement, the Federation Council said Russia had been forced to look at suspending the treaty "for as long as all the countries of NATO have not ratified" an adapted version of the accord.General Yury Baluyevsky, Russia's chief of the general staff, said the move was "the correct, logical step from the political and military point of view," ITAR-TASS news agency reported.Responding to Friday's vote the Western military alliance NATO reiterated earlier criticism it had made."Any measure which takes forward the process by which Russia would unilaterally withdraw from the treaty is regrettable," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.The state-run RIA Novosti news agency said Russia could still return to the CFE if Putin reversed parliament's decision.But a NATO diplomat, requesting anonymity, questioned what Russia meant by suspending the treaty, saying it contained no provision for suspension and that Moscow was intentionally muddying the waters."Russia's decision to use the term 'suspension' only adds an element of doubt," he said."Does this mean the CFE treaty is dead? Nothing is clear. It's an ambiguous situation that could satisfy both parties," he said.The treaty's demise highlights deteriorating relations between Moscow and countries of the Atlantic alliance as Putin's administration pushes to reassert Russia on the international stage."This will be an indicator of Russia's seriousness in its uncompromising stand on ensuring its defensive capabilities, including in answer to US plans to put anti-missile defences in eastern Europe," State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky told ITAR-TASS.Last week Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Kolmakov said that plans were being considered for boosting troop deployments on the western flank, something impossible under the CFE.This is not the first indication of a return to Cold War-style tensions.Russia has also this year renewed long-distance strategic bomber patrols, threatened to retarget nuclear missiles at European cities, and to withdraw from other bedrock disarmament treaties.Moscow says the CFE is not working because an updated version agreed on in 1999 has been ratified by Russia, but not by NATO countries.NATO members, led by the United States, say they cannot ratify the pact because of Russia's military presence in ex-Soviet Georgia and Moldova.But for NATO, Appathurai stressed: "NATO countries want to see the adapted treaty enter into force as soon as possible."Although Russia this week handed over a third Soviet-era base to the pro-Western Georgian authorities, there is controversy over a fourth.Although Russia says that the base has been decommissioned, Georgian officials are unable to inspect the facility because it is in the Russian-backed separatist Abkhazia region.Adding to the tension is the growing unease in the West with wide-ranging limitations imposed by Putin on democratic reforms and what critics call Russia's aggressive use of massive energy resources.Moscow accuses Washington of interfering in Russia's backyard and attempting to rule the world as the sole superpower.Speaking about the decision to quit the CFE, Baluyevsky said: "The US and NATO political leadership hoped that Russia would flinch at the last moment and not take the decision about introducing a moratorium," RIA Novosti reported

Friday, November 16, 2007

S.African Farm Murders: Who is actually behind them?

From the News Archives of: WWW.AfricanCrisis.OrgDate & Time Posted: 12/30/2006
S.African Farm Murders: Who is actually behind them?
[Here is another piece concerning Farm Murders and what I was told directly by someone senior in one of the few remaining Commando Units. The Govt will be shutting down ALL of the Commando units. So far, 70 of the 90 commando units have already been shut down.The Commando units have been in existence for over a century and they are volunteer groups who protect the rural areas. The man I spoke to spoke from personal experience of things he had seen and operations he had been on.He told me that while the "Commandos" have been offered positions in the Police Reserve, that most of them will NOT join the Police Reserve. He said that the view of many of them is that the Police PART OF THE PROBLEM. They feel that shutting down the commandos is a way of "disarming" them and that in the long term, they expect this to cause the Farm Murder rate to pick up once more!He told me that in the course of his Commando duties, he and many others were sent on courses and they interacted with other specialists. He told me a fascinating thing which I did not know. He said that both the Police and the South African Army have got specialised units that investigate Farm Murders! (I never knew this and never saw it mentioned in the news). He said there are specialists who go to the scene of every single farm murder and they take photos and get video footage. They gather STACKS of data quietly. He said one guy once showed them on his laptop photos of farm murders. He said you could name any farm murder incident and this guy would pull up photos of the murder. He said he saw all sorts of horrific stuff including people with pieces of wire around their throats, etc. *ALL* Farm murders are documented - but its just not available to the public.He said these officers are very interested in defeating this farm murder scourge. But he said that in discussions with some of these people, he realised that they are very unhappy themselves and that they know they will be worked out of the system - and ultimately removed from the Army, etc. They have in the course of their duties come across very fascinating information. He said that informally, when "chatting", some of these people have hinted at their "belief" that Farm Murders are orchestrated by particular political forces. I use the word "belief" above, but later you'll see some of the hard evidence they have uncovered. He said there is talk about "communism" being behind the farm murders - and I will deal on the possible Eastern European connection in another post. There is also a whole "underground crime organisation" that may be linked to farm murders and all these things may work together. However, he said there is "talk" that three particular people connected to the ANC are actually the driving force behind the Farm Murders. The three names he has heard people talk of are:-1. Jacob Zuma (former Deputy President that Mbeki fired but whom the commies love and who will try to stand for President in 2009).2. Jackie Selebi - the man who heads our national Police force. (In recent months the Mass Media has been bringing up hard evidence showing Jackie Selebi's connections to organised crime). 3. Mosiuoa Lekota - the Minister of Defense here in S.Africa. (Interestingly, when I spoke to PW Botha shortly before his death he also mentioned that he thinks Lekota is a very dangerous man. He did not elaborate on what made him think that. The Media love him, but PW had another view of him which surprised me).My informant told me that some of these people in these specialised Police/Army Farm Murder units are themselves very demoralised and they know that their careers won't last. Jan]

In Subprime Crisis, the Worst Is Yet to Come

In Subprime Crisis, the Worst Is Yet to Come
By Beat Balzli and Frank Hornig
The consequences of the US real estate crisis are far greater than previously suspected. Wall Street could face losses of over $200 billion, and German banks are unlikely to escape unscathed. The full extent of the disaster will not be known for months.

The full extent of the fall-out from the subprime crisis is still not known.Only a few weeks ago, in October, the world still seemed a fairly orderly place to Charles Prince, the chairman and CEO of Citigroup. Although the bank's earnings were already heading south as a result of the subprime crisis (more...), Citigroup's largest individual shareholder, Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, wasn't losing his cool. What was happening on the financial markets was a "mere hiccup," the Arab multibillionaire explained.
A short time later, at the beginning of last week, it was time for another Citigroup executive to take the company jet to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh for some urgently needed damage control. Until 2003, Sandy Weill (more...) was chairman of Citigroup, the world's biggest bank at the time. Weill, who is now 74, is credited with having expanded the company in the 1990s into the broadly diversified financial services conglomerate it is today. Now his life's work was in jeopardy.
Find out how you can reprint this DER SPIEGEL article in your publication. Weill knew that the "hiccup" had quickly turned into a serious threat. "We discussed the situation, what was wrong and why things are happening like that," Prince Alwaleed told the magazine Fortune, describing his crisis meeting with Weill.
News of the meeting in Saudi Arabia sent faraway Wall Street into turmoil. Only a few days after Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal was let go, Citigroup chief executive Prince was also asked to clear his desk.
Both executives were guilty of a fundamental miscalculation. As a result, the two companies will each be forced to write off between $8 billion and $11 billion in bad debt. But, as dramatic as the events at Merrill Lynch and Citigroup were, they do not mark the end of the banking nightmare that began in mid-summer.
That was when the first financial institutions and hedge funds began issuing warnings that the US real estate bubble was on the verge of bursting. Many homeowners who had borrowed heavily against the equity in their homes, confident that real estate prices would continue to rise, were suddenly faced with the realization that they could no longer afford to keep up their mortgage payments.

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)The repercussions of the crisis have mushroomed since then, with billions at stake now instead of millions. And despite ongoing efforts by politicians and central banks to bring calm to the market, a crisis that began among smaller banks has since spread to the industry's giants.
The effects of the disaster on almost every major Wall Street institution and many European banks have been far more severe than previously supposed. The 10 biggest losers have already reported losses of more than $40 billion, and even this is only the beginning.
"I believe that we are still not aware of all the risks," said Alexander Dibelius, the head of investment bank Goldman Sachs's German office, only two weeks ago -- shortly before the CEOs at Citigroup and Merrill were let go.
Economists and central bankers are already predicting total losses in excess of $200 billion. "The bloodbath in credit and financial markets will continue and sharply worsen," Nouriel Roubini, a highly regarded American economist, recently wrote on his blog.
His fears stem from the fact that so far banks have only published their results for the third quarter of 2007, which, for most institutions, ended in August or September. The real estate crisis has worsened since then, with even greater losses expected for the fourth quarter.
The true scope of the debacle will likely become apparent only after annual financial statements are published next spring. Quarterly statements are an imperfect indicator, because they enable banks to defer their losses relatively unnoticed.

It's been a nasty few weeks for the global banking giants.One of the results of the dismal news is that, after weeks of rising prices, the US's leading stock market index, the Dow Jones, took a sharp downward turn in recent days. The central banks' efforts to improve the situation by increasing liquidity and lowering interest rates have evaporated like drops of water on a hot stone. Fear and suspicion are the prevailing sentiments on the world's stock markets. A banker in Frankfurt predicts: "We are just at the beginning of the second tsunami wave."
Its effects will likely extend beyond the banking sector. AIG, America's largest insurance group, is already reporting a 27-percent loss for the third quarter. In addition to the now notorious high-risk subprime mortgages, financial worries in the United States are now also being stoked by concern over subprime credit cards and subprime auto loans. For consumers unable to pay their mortgages, the monthly credit card bill or the car loan are also likely to present a problem.
With the price of oil close to the $100 mark and the dollar in a nosedive, the outlook for the US economy -- and the world economy -- is becoming increasingly bleak.
In a hearing before the US Congress last Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned lawmakers of the consequences of the crisis: higher inflation, declining consumer spending and lower growth rates. On the same day, Bernanke's counterpart in the European Union, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, expressed concern over what he called the "brutal moves" in the euro-dollar exchange rate.
To make matters worse, the banks' mortgage problem is developing into a crisis of confidence reminiscent of the collapse of the scandal-plagued US corporations Enron and WorldCom. The first investor lawsuit has already been filed, and the US market watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is taking a closer look at questionable accounting practices. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has also launched his own investigations.

Part 2: Foolhardiness and Greed

But as complex as today's banking transactions are, the motives behind key players' actions are as simple as ever: foolhardiness and greed.
Take Stan O'Neal, for example. As chairman of Merrill Lynch, he pushed the company into increasingly risky real estate deals. Highly profitable in the short term, these deals earned O'Neal handsome bonuses. The fact that the entire model stood on shaky ground was water off a duck's back to O'Neal, who left the company with $162 million in severance pay.

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)To meet their profit goals, banking executives and their brokers had repeatedly delayed performing risk assessments of their financial instruments. "What would happen if Boeing Co. or Johnson & Johnson rolled out products with similar defect rates?" the Wall Street Journal asked rhetorically. The subprime crisis, the paper writes, acts as "a vital portal onto Wall Street, helping us understand just how upside-down the place has become."
In addition, the banks' boards of directors, blinded by the celebrity status of their senior executives, neglected to draft recruitment scenarios for top-level positions. The consequences of their neglect are now coming home to roost, as they face a limited selection of qualified candidates. The few remaining prospects, like Deutsche Bank Chairman Josef Ackermann, are suddenly in high demand.
Other US banks are also feeling the pinch. Morgan Stanley and Wachovia reported write-offs of $3.7 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively -- and those were only the numbers being reported late last week.
While Wall Street brokers are worried about their usually lavish Christmas bonuses, analysts at market research company CreditSights are busy calculating expected losses for the fourth quarter. Their predictions include a loss of $5.1 billion at Goldman Sachs, $3.9 billion at Lehman Brothers and $3.2 billion at Bear Stearns, whose CEO, James Cayne, has also faced heavy criticism. Trouble is also brewing at British bank Barclays.
Meanwhile Germany has by no means remained untouched by the fiasco. Despite posting substantial write-offs, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and Hypo Real Estate managed to report earnings growth in the last quarter. Nevertheless, this has by no means eliminated the uncertainty.
Only after their annual reports have been audited will "they all be able to breathe easier," says a risk management expert. "In other words, all kinds of things can reappear in the last quarter." According to the risk management expert, so far the Germans have taken a less hard line in their assessments than the Americans or Swiss banks like UBS. Does this mean that it's all just a question of valuation?
The valuation of complex credit products, for which there are currently almost no market prices, is a hotly debated issue among bankers, auditors and industry groups. Neither the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) nor the Institute of Public Auditors in Germany (IDW) has offered clear guidelines. The resulting vacuum creates the temptation to doctor the numbers.
Fraudulent labeling is a hotly discussed issue at the moment, especially among Germany's state-backed banks, which are currently revising their accounting rules. Under the proposed new rules, the types of assets banks used to acquire purely for trading purposes, to earn a quick euro, so to speak, could now be declared as a long-term capital investment. The advantage of this approach is it would allow painful market losses in trading positions to be posted directly to the profit and loss statement. Securities held to maturity, however, would not have to be valued at current market prices, but instead at their acquisition prices. It's the perfect recipe for concocting an accounting fairy tale.

Part 3: 'Buy, Buy, Buy'
But the fear of time bombs on balance sheets raises worries on precisely the financial markets on which banks lend money to each other. Despite all efforts by central banks to intervene, everyone in these markets distrusts everyone else.

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)The year-end rally over funds that won't have to be repaid until January is already underway. No bank wants to risk no longer being able to guarantee its daily monetary transactions. "That's because most of them close their books starting in mid-December," says a London banker. "There's hardly any money available after that."
This scarcity makes borrowing money more costly. Financial managers use freshly borrowed cash primarily to plug the holes in their bank's sizeable investment funds. But the different possible solutions present the funds with a painful choice. Fund managers can either inject new cash, which could easily be consumed in no time, or they could face the prospect of devastating forced sales, which would lead to yet another broad decline in prices for credit products.
This is precisely the acute danger facing Sachsen Funding I, a €2 billion fund. In the next four weeks, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg and other investors will have to decide whether to inject additional cash or close the fund.
A rescue operation is already underway at an investment firm called Ormond Quay, which was responsible for the emergency sale of SachsenLB to Landesbank Baden-Württemberg.
To prevent a collapse, a consortium of German savings banks provided Sachsen Funding I with a €17.3 billion emergency funding package several weeks ago. Of German bank DekaBank's €6 billion share of the package, only about €500 million has been used to date.
WestLB, another German state bank, is also involved in an extensive bailout effort. According to a spokesman, WestLB had to provide its €3.3 billion Kestrel fund with "a credit line to support liquidity."
The credit line, says the WestLB spokesman, "guarantees the full repayment of all debt securities." It has also saved the fund from being downgraded by ratings agency Moody's.
WestLB believes that the prices in the Kestrel portfolio will recover. This reflects the current focus on faith in a world normally dominated by hard numbers. The situation is also tense at Harrier Finance, another WestLB company with assets of $11 billion.
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Is Harrier about to face a complete fire sale? This would be all too convenient for some financial jugglers. The first vultures hoping to turn a profit from the debacle are already circling.
One of them is market guru Bill Gross. For the past few days, Gross, who founded German insurance conglomerate Allianz's PIMCO pension fund, has been buying up the supposedly junk securities at bargain-basement prices.
Giants like Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland have been doing the same thing, investing their wealthy customers' money. If the market bounces back, these high stakes players could end up raking in huge profits in the global financial casino.
"If I had the money," says an envious chairman of a German state bank, "all I would do now is buy, buy, buy."
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan,1518,517139,00.html


from Crawford2000 Website
"Iron rods will be built and iron monsters will bark though the wilderness. Cars without horses and shaft will come, and man will fly through the air like birds "....

"The catholic faith will almost completely disappear, the religiousness will be quite badly respected, they will not earn any respect due to their way of living, there won't be many good Christians among the people, the Commandments of God are no longer respected by the aristocracy as well as by the smallest worker, one will not think the greatest unfairness to be a sin. When the faith disappears also the love of the next one will completely lose itself, one will not estimate the justice, often the poor one will not be given right and he will be less respected than a dog. After this a mischief will arise that has to be regretted, there will be no order among the people""When in the outskirts of the forest the iron road will be finished, and there the iron horse will be seen, a war will begin, to last twice two years ...It would be fought with iron fortresses that move without horses". Two or three decades after the first war it will come one a Second War still larger. Almost all the nations of the world will be involved. Millions of men will die, without being soldiers. The fire will fall from the sky and many great cities will be destroyed. And after the end of the Second Great War, a third universal conflagration will come, so that it will determine everything. There will be weapons totally new. In one day, more men will die than in all the previous wars. The battles will be accomplished with artificial weapons. Gigantic catastrophes will happen. With the open eyes, the nations of the planet will go through these catastrophes. They won't know what is happening, and those that know and tell, will be silenced. Everything will be different from before, and in many places the Earth will be a great cemetery. The third war will be the end of many nations".

"You, my children, won't experience the largest mischief, you, my grandchildren, won't also experience it, but the third stock, that will easily experience it." "Over night it will take place - in a pub in Zwiesel many people will be together, and outside the soldiers will ride over the bridge." ........

"The people will run out of the forest. Those, who hide themselves at the "Fuchsenriegel" or at the "Falkenstein", remain spared. Who survives must have an iron heading. The people become ill, and nobody can help them... however it will continue, and what follows then, is the end of the world. Sky and earth burn, because it is the time, when everything comes to an end. And this time will be, when the wild hunt with fire and sulphur roars over the country. But it is still long time, till it will happen, then no humans will know anymore, where "Zwiesel" and where "Rabenstein" (German towns) have been. Of all frights the this will be the last. When the people fall off the bank like the flies off the wall, the last time begins. It will be horrible." ........

"But when however someone at the whole Danube stream finds still another cow, then she is worth it to be attached with a silver bell by the owner." ....

"After these events it will be a miracle, if one still sees two or three rulers going together, after these events the clarity will be anew, and those who survived, will face a good time for hope".
from Millennium Book of Prophecy by John Hogue

Railroads, Cars, and Planes
"Iron roads will be built, and iron monsters will bark through the wilderness. Cars without horses and shaft will come, and men will fly though the air like birds."
World War 1
"When in the outskirts of the forest the iron road will be finished, and there the iron horse will be seen, a war will begin, to last for twice two years. It will be fought with iron fortresses that move without horses, and with powers that come from the earth and fall from the sky."
According to Hogue:
"The day WW1 began was pinpointed two centuries before it happened by a simple and reclusive cowherd in the Bavarian forests bordering Czechoslovakia. On Aug. 1, 1914, a new railroad line between Kalteneck and Deggendorf (running on the edge of Stormberger's forest) officially opened -the day hostilities began. The war did last four years and saw the introduction of terrible new weapons such as mines "from the earth", poison gas "falling from the sky" and tanks-"iron fortresses" that move.
1929: The Stock Market Crash
"Right after this horrible war there will come a time when money will have no value. For 200 guilders not even a loaf of bread will be available, and yet there shall be no famine. Money will be made of iron, and gold shall become so valuable that for a few gold coins a small farm can be bought."
The Interval Between World Wars
"Two or three decades after the first great war will come a second, still greater war. Almost all nations of the world will be involved. Millions of men will die, without being soldiers. Fire will fall from the sky and many great cites will be destroyed."
"And after the second great struggle between the nations will come a third universal conflagration, which will determine everything. There will be entirely new weapons. In one day more men will die than in all previous wars combined. Battles will be fought with artificial weapons. Gigantic catastrophes will occur. With open eyes will the nations of the Earth enter into these catastrophes. They shall not be aware of what is happening, and those who will know and tell, will be silenced.Everything will become different than before, and in many places the Earth will be a great cemetery. The third great war will be the end of many nations."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

SA will be better if I’m president - Zuma

Published:Nov 15, 2007
ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma said the country would become even better if he became president, according to a newspaper report.
Speaking at the 1926 Club at Johannesburg’s Rand Club, Zuma’s response to those who were thinking of leaving SA if he became president was: "I can assure you that this country will become even better."
He reportedly denied that either he or his spokesman had told a Johannesburg weekend newspaper that if he went down, he would take the ANC with him.
Zuma said that if one examined the article closely, it attributed the remark to one of his supporters. However, he did not say whether the remark accurately reflected his sentiments, the Star said.

He said that he wanted the ANC congress next month to introduce term limits for its presidents, with the aim of prevent two conflicting centres of power emerging within the ruling party.
Zuma reportedly said the party had at its Mafikeng congress (1997) briefly debated whether it should introduce term limits by bringing the ANC and national presidential terms into line - but it decided against this.
He believed terms limits had become an issue again and should be debated in Polokwane - "rather than leaving matters to chance".

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mboweni favours a rate hike

Mboweni favours a rate hike
By Michael Hamlyn, I-Net Bridge
Published:Nov 14, 2007
Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni.
Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni, gave a very strong signal that another interest hike is on the way when he told members of parliament that in his view rates should go up.
Speaking to the finance portfolio committee, Mboweni said: "If I was the only member of the Monetary Policy Committee, I would definitely increase rates in December."
The bank staff’s forecast for inflation in the coming months shows inflation increasing above the 6% target for part of 2008 before dropping back into the target range before the end of the year.
He told the committee: "The inflation picture for South Africa is that pressures are on the upside, whether from electricity or vegetables. When the forecasts indicate that inflation is likely to stay above the target, the task of the central bank is to tighten monetary policy."
He said that there was a period recently when the Monetary Policy Committee should have tightened rates, but did not do so. "It was an error," he said.
But he also reminded members that he was not the only member of the committee, and it was not certain that they would take his advice.
He joked with the members that Trevor Manuel, the finance minister, would complain that he would ruin people’s Christmas, but he said it was not up to him. He did not fix the target range, he said.

And GOD Said ---" I will take all the welth they have stolen away from them( BEE deals )"

Kunene shooting: attempted murder case opened

Kunene shooting: attempted murder case opened
Published:Nov 14, 2007
Police are investigating a case of attempted murder after Muziwendoda Kunene, the man caught up in the "hoax email" saga, was shot in Pretoria today.
National spokeswoman Director Sally de Beer said Kunene sustained a flesh wound when he was shot in the hand at around 8am in Lynwood Road.
Kunene received medical attention on the scene and was taken to a local hospital for further treatment.
A full investigation would be conducted by experienced detectives and anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stop on 086-001-0111.
702 Talk Radio said it was understood that two men came up to Kunene and accused him of fraternising with the media. He then ran away and was shot in the hand.
The incident comes hours after Kunene claimed that senior members of the African National Congress (ANC) were plotting to assassinate him.
The ruling party today dismissed his claims as a "conjured up story".
"It is a completely conjured up story... the ANC has nothing to do with him, he has nothing to do with the ANC and he is not a member of the ANC and he is not part of any ANC structures," said the party’s head of the presidency, Smuts Ngonyama.
Kunene told 702 that while working for the National Intelligence Agency, he came across information linking senior politicians to corruption and bribery - which is why they wanted to kill or frame him.
He said he was under constant surveillance and that his recent hijacking was proof that he was being targeted.
Kunene stands accused under the Intelligence Services Oversight Act of withholding information from the Inspector General of Intelligence by failing or refusing to provide a response on questions put to him.
The saga involves fake e-mails between ANC leaders, discrediting ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma.
The e-mails allegedly implicated senior ANC members in a conspiracy against ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe.

Eish , this 2009 election just aint gona hjappen without some blood on the wall's and in the streets of capetown and pretoria


Paradise for Saleby Carl N. McDaniel and John M. Gowdy, University of California Press, 2000."The number of people who can live sustainably on the planet is an open question. The rate of growth of the population accelerated for a long time. For example, it took about 180 years to double from half a billion (1650) to one billion (1830), while to go from two billion (1930) to four billion (1975) took only 45 years. Although the future is uncertain, the growth rate is no longer accelerating; that is, the time it takes for the human population to double is lengthening. If the trend continues, the population will eventually stop growing. While this is good news in the long term, over 80 million additional humans are still being added to the population each year, and similar increases are projected for many years.Although most people accept that there is a limit to the number of people the earth can support, that limit cannot be precisely determined. Why? Because the variables are so many and, to make matters worse, because unknown variables always lurk in the background. When Antoni van Leeuwenhoek predicted in 1679 that maximum human population was about 13 billion, he did not know that human activities were causing a mass biodiversity extinction, that cutting down tropical forests could change local and global climates, or that tractors would allow one person to till hundreds of acres. Despite these many variables, scientists and others have made numerous predictions; 65 factually based calculations have a low median of 8 billion people and a high median of 16 billion, with a mean of about 12 billion. These values are of immediate concern because many demographers have calculated that the population will plateau around 12 billion sometime in the second half of the twenty-first century.However, none of these calculations takes sustainability into account; that is, the calculations are essentially for a population size at a certain time, not for one that could be maintained for thousands of years. If we cannot do the calculation precisely for a point in time, we have no hope of performing a dynamic calculation that would be valid for hundreds or thousands of years. Both types of calculations are worthwhile, however, because the results give us a sense of reality -- the threshold of monumental disaster. The maximum population size numbers tell us that as the world population reaches 6 billion we are approaching disaster, because this population size is most likely not sustainable for very many generations.The number of organisms in an ecosystem is the result of interaction between the species' biological growth potential and the environmental resistance that prevents all organisms from realizing their potential. Under ideal conditions, for instance, one bacterium could increase to 2.2 x 10 to the 43 bacteria in 48 hours with a mass roughly a thousand times that of the earth. Environmental resistance-climate, abiotic resources like water and nutrients, toxic waste buildup, and biological factors like parasites, predators, and competition for resources -- prevent every population of organisms from realizing its growth potential.An animal species may have several long-term stable population sizes, each depending on unique environmental resistance factors. And each of these stable populations, or carrying capacities, represents the number of individuals of a species that the ecosystem can support under the specified conditions. If the environmental resistance factors do not change, the ecosystem does not change and the population size remains stable. Things never stay the same, of course. Over time major factors in the environmental resistance will vary and the population size will change.The carrying capacity concept has predictive value in managing wildlife and in determining the sizes of populations in natural ecosystems. You might ask, if carrying capacity applies to pheasants, deer, and grizzly bears, why doesn't it apply to humans? It does. Like all organisms, humans are subject to the laws of ecology, but we can't calculate the carrying capacity for humans with any precision because we can manipulate our ecosystems in profound ways. We have become extremely adept at tapping stored-up natural resources, especially energy, water, and soil fertility; and in doing so we establish what appears to be a higher carrying capacity. With the domestication of animals and plants and the emergence of agriculture 10,000 years ago, stored-up resources were used first within local ecosystems. Over the last two centuries, however, the earth's resource stockpiles have been used globally. This worldwide exchange of resources, as well as exceedingly clever technologies, have increased a region's carrying capacity by overcoming local constraints.Life on earth is possible because energy flows from the sun; despite exceptions, essentially all the energy that runs the earth's biotic enterprise is captured in photosynthesis by plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. We have been able to increase our numbers by coopting about 40 percent of the net land photosynthesis and a smaller fraction from aquatic environments -- 10,000 years ago the estimated world population of four million humans used less than 0.005 percent of net land photosynthesis. Consider again, for example, the great plains of North America where, prior to European habitation, 40 million bison and thousands of humans and smaller animals lived off the energy supplied by the grasses and other plants. We now farm and ranch that land, and in doing so we probably support an even larger biomass of animals -- primarily chickens, pigs, and cows, as well as millions of humans -- by employing industrial agriculture.It may sound good that we have improved the ecosystem's productivity by relying on industrial agriculture. Closer analysis, though, indicates that this may be a short-term phenomenon. When microorganisms, invertebrates, grasses, bison, deer, antelope, and native Americans were the prime players in the ecosystem, the whole system ran on sunshine and was biologically stabler. The ecological "books" were in balance, and some items like topsoil usually were improving. Industrial agriculture has increased the apparent carrying capacity by using vast amounts of fossil fuels to make fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides, in addition to the fuels used to raise seeds and to run the machinery that works the soil and disperses seeds and chemicals. For each calorie of food produced, close to three calories of fossil fuel energy are consumed on the farm -- energy that did not come from this year's sunshine. In addition, water is pumped from the ground for irrigation; some of this water comes from aquifers that are drained faster than they are filled. These farming methods have led to a massive loss of topsoil through water, wind, and splash erosion. Over the past 150 years Iowa has lost 50 percent of its fertile topsoil to erosion, while the current rate of loss is 30 tons per hectare per year compared to a formation rate of 1 ton per hectare per year. In contrast, undisturbed grasslands and forests have erosion rates of .02 and .07 tons per hectare per year, respectively. In the long run this kind of agriculture reduces the carrying capacity of ecosystems, as it has done already in many areas around the world, primarily in ecosystems less resilient than parts of the Great Plains. The apparent success of current industrial agriculture has led people to believe that the earth's long-term human carrying capacity is far greater than it really is.Biologists also have indirect evidence that puts the size of our current population in an ecological category of its own. How many individuals exist in a population within a certain area depends on the organism's size. Bacteria are small and billions of many species exist in 1 square meter of forest soil. Field mice are much larger than bacteria and only thousands exist in 1 square kilometer of grass land. Deer are about the size of humans and 4 deer per square kilometer is a normal distribution in a forest-meadow habitat. Primates like howler monkeys and mountain gorillas are rare, and their density of habitation is a fraction of an individual for many square kilometers. A human is a large primate weighing about 50 kilograms, so we would predict human densities similar to those of primates or at least similar to those of other large animals like deer, wolves, or bears. When we compare the current human population with that of 50-kilogram or larger nondomesticated land vertebrates, however, the global human population density is now 100 times greater than that of any other similar-sized animal, past or present. Our global population size is an ecological aberration. The reason is simply explained: First, directly or indirectly, humans use huge amounts of the energy acquired by plants at the expense of other species; second, intelligence and communication have enabled huge human populations to exist almost everywhere on the planet by cleverly employing technologies to increase present-day carrying capacities.Not only is the human population enormous, but our local densities are gigantic, too. In cities like New York City or Hong Kong humans have densities of tens of thousands per square kilometer. In an entire country like Holland, an average of 440 people live in each square kilometer -- a phenomenal density when compared with other large animals. The current Dutch population could not maintain its lifestyle, or most likely any lifestyle, if it was limited to subsisting on resources from Holland alone. The Dutch would need at least fifteen times more area to obtain the resources they currently use. Such densities are possible in cities and most countries because people are taking resources from elsewhere.In 1798 Thomas Malthus, a British political economist, warned western industrial society that human population growth would be halted by natural processes unless we controlled our numbers. Humans have failed, however, to establish a stable population because beliefs and economic incentives support contrary behavior and because our technologies enable us to overcome local limits in the present. The export of Western culture and economies eliminated constraints on population growth in many places around the planet. The result? A world population that has doubled in just over forty years.Over the past hundred years, though, the patterns of change experienced by populations around the globe have exhibited enormous variability. In the early twentieth century, the populations in western European countries were growing rapidly, but by the early 1980s some had completed a demographic transition to zero population growth. Over a one-hundred year period birth rates had dropped to equal death rates because of availability of contraceptive technologies, widespread education, lower child mortality, higher living standards, and the depletion of places to export excess population.For most of the twentieth century nonindustrialized countries have witnessed tremendous jumps in their populations, but in the last several decades fertility rates in many have fallen even faster than were experienced during the demographic transition in European countries. This is not because living standards have risen; contraceptives, greater education and economic opportunities primarily for women, and media information on population and family planning have paved the way. Other situations, like economic and social deterioration in the former Soviet Union, have resulted in dramatic fertility declines. Although trends can be identified, the world is composed of myriad cultures, with each expressing a dynamic pattern of population change."While the foregoing makes it clear that calculating a precise human carrying capacity for earth will not be accomplished, it is absolutely certain that growth of the human population will stop. Simple mathematics tells us at recent annual increases of about 1.6% (a doubing time of 45 years) that in less than 1,000 years each person will have only one square meter of land and that in less than 2,000 years the human population will equal the mass of the earth -- both impossible. The tragic consequence of humans occuppying and using ever larger percentages of the earth's ecological space is that all of the rest of life -- except those weedy species that do well in human created habitats -- has no where to go except extinct. As a result, we humans are causing the sixth mass biological diversity extinction episode of the last 600 million years. Realizing biological diversity is what makes earth habitable and supportive of human civilization in the first place, this current extinction episode takes on overwhelming significance in human affairs.

FURTHER READINGJoel E. Cohen: HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN THE EARTH SUPPORT? New York: Norton. 1995. Joel E. Cohen: POPULATION GROWTH AND EARTH'S HUMAN CARRYING CAPACITY. 1995. Science 269:341-346.Clive Ponting: A GREEN HISTORY OF THE WORLD: THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE COLLAPSE OF GREAT CIVILIZATIONS. New York: Penguin Books. 1991.David Quammen: PLANET OF WEEDS. Harper's Magazine, October 1998, pp 57-69.Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees: OUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT: RELIEVING HUMAN IMPACT ON THE EARTH. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers. 1996.Peter Ward: THE END OF EVOLUTION. New York: Bantam Books. 1994.Edward O. Wilson: THE DIVERISTY OF LIFE. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1992.Edward O. Wilson: THE DIVERSITY OF LIFE (Book Excerpt). Discover, September 1992, pp 45-68.

ANC Gauteng Branches Opt for Zuma

ANC Gauteng Branches Opt for Zuma

Geskryf deur Business Day
Dinsdag, 13 November 2007
THE majority of African National Congress (ANC) Gauteng branches have come out in support of Jacob Zuma in the party's leadership race set to come to a head at its conference in 34 days.In Johannesburg, Gauteng's most influential region, not a single branch voted in favour of President Thabo Mbeki's bid for a third term. More than half of Johannesburg's branches have completed their nomination processes. The region produces a quarter of ANC's Gauteng delegates going to the elective national conference in Polokwane.Meanwhile, nothing has come of reports of Mbeki's imminent nomination by the ANC's Sandton branch.An insider said yesterday the Sunday afternoon branch general meeting "did not materialise" as delegates "failed" to pitch.Commentators are looking to the ANC's nomination process, which closes on November 26, for an early indication of the state of the Zuma-Mbeki race.To add to Mbeki's re-election woes in Gauteng, businessman Cyril Ramaphosa has secured more presidential nominations than Mbeki has in the province. Ramaphosa has five nominations, while Mbeki and another presidential hopeful, Tokyo Sexwale, have three each.With just more than a quarter of the 354 branches in Gauteng having finalised their preferences for the ANC's top posts, Zuma has already secured 57 presidential nominations.Gauteng is the ANC's fourth- largest voting bloc at the national conference, after Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.Steven Friedman, senior research associate at policy think-tank Idasa, said the Gauteng picture was a bigger problem for Mbeki than the news for Zuma that he was losing the nomination race in Eastern Cape."This must weigh heavily for Mbeki, and surely will make him pause for thought. The question of how important it is for him to beat Zuma has to arise. What happens to his legacy? What if he ends up losing, what if he ends up winning but only by 52% or 54 % of the vote ?" Friedman asked.Another insider said that the ANC Youth League in Gauteng had been "instrumental" in ensuring the upsurge of support for Zuma in the province.The league remains Zuma's key backer, while KwaZulu-Natal is regarded as his strongest constituency.Mbeki's main support base is Eastern Cape, while his lobbyists are also pursuing the ANC Women's League's nomination .

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Food crisis begins to bite

Food crisis begins to bite
John Vidal
12 November 2007 11:59

A farmer dries the corn in Shenyang, China. The country is tightening controls on the use of corn for industrial purposes, including biofuel processing, in an effort to control surging food prices.

Empty shelves in Caracas. Food riots in West Bengal and Mexico. Warnings of hunger in Jamaica, Nepal, the Philippines and sub-Saharan Africa. Soaring prices for basic foods are beginning to lead to political instability, with governments being forced to step in to artificially control the cost of bread, maize, rice and dairy products.Record world prices for most staple foods have led to 18% food price inflation in China, 13% in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10% or more in Latin America, Russia and India, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50% higher than a year ago and rice is 20% more expensive, says the UN. Last week the Kremlin forced Russian companies to freeze the price of milk, bread and other foods until January 31, for fear of a public backlash with a parliamentary election looming. “The price of goods has risen sharply and that has hit the poor particularly hard,” said Oleg Savelyev, of the Levada Centre polling institute.India, Yemen, Mexico, Burkina Faso and several other countries have had, or been close to, food riots in the past year, something not seen in decades of low global food commodity prices. Meanwhile, there are shortages of beef, chicken and milk in Venezuela and other countries as governments try to keep a lid on food price inflation.Boycotts have become commonplace. Argentinians shunned tomatoes during the recent presidential election campaign when they became more expensive than meat. Italians organised a one-day boycott of pasta in protest at rising prices. German left-wing politicians have called for an increase in welfare benefits so that people can cope with price rises.“If you combine the increase of the oil prices and the increase of food prices then you have the elements of a very serious [social] crisis in the future,” said Jacques Diouf, head of the FAO, in London last week.The price rises are a result of record oil prices, US farmers switching out of cereals to grow biofuel crops, extreme weather and growing demand from countries like India and China, the UN said last week.“There is no one cause but a lot of things are coming together to lead to this. It’s hard to separate out the factors,” said Ali Gurkan, head of the FAO’s Food Outlook programme on Monday.He said cereal stocks had been declining for more than a decade but now stood at around 57 days, which made global food supplies vulnerable to an international crisis or big natural disaster such as a drought or flood.“Any unforeseen flood or crisis can make prices rise very quickly. I do not think we should panic but we should be very careful about what may happen,” he warned.Lester Brown, president of the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute think-tank, said: “The competition for grain between the world’s 800-million motorists, who want to maintain their mobility, and its two billion poorest people, who are simply trying to survive, is emerging as an epic issue.”Last year, he said, US farmers distorted the world market for cereals by growing 14-million tonnes, or 20% of the whole maize crop, for ethanol for vehicles. This took millions of hectares of land out of food production and nearly doubled the price of maize. US President George W Bush this year called for steep rises in ethanol production as part of plans to reduce petrol demand by 20% by 2017.Maize is a staple food in many countries that import from the US, including Japan, Egypt and Mexico. US exports are 70% of the world total, and are used widely for animal feed. The shortages have disrupted livestock and poultry industries worldwide.“The use of food as a source of fuel may have serious implications for the demand for food if the expansion of biofuels continues,” said a spokesman for the International Monetary Fund last week.The outlook is widely expected to worsen as agro-industries prepare to switch to highly profitable biofuels, according to Grain, a Barcelona-based food resources group. Its research suggests that the Indian government is committed to planting 14-million hectares (35-million acres) of land with jatropha, an exotic bush from which biodiesel can be manufactured. Brazil intends to grow 120-million hectares for biofuels, and Africa as much as 400-million hectares in the next few years. Much of the growth, the countries say, would be on unproductive land, but many millions of people are expected to be forced off that land.This week Oxfam warned the European Union that its policy of substituting 10% of all car fuel with biofuels threatened to displace poor farmers.The food crisis is being compounded by growing populations, extreme weather and ecological stress, according to a number of recent reports.This week the UN Environment Programme said the planet’s water, land, air, plants, animals and fish stocks were all in “inexorable decline”. According to the UN’s World Food Programme 57 countries, including 29 in Africa, 19 in Asia and nine in Latin America, have been hit by catastrophic floods. Harvests have been affected by drought and heatwaves in south Asia, Europe, China, Sudan, Mozambique and Uruguay.According to Josette Sheeran, director of the World Food Programme:

“There are 854-million hungry people in the world and four million more join their ranks every year. We are facing the tightest food supplies in recent history. For the world’s most vulnerable, food is simply being priced out of their reach.”

-- © Guardian News & Media Ltd 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

S. Africa puts TB patients behind fences

S. Africa puts TB patients behind fences
Posted on Sun, Nov. 11, 2007
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Associated Press Writer

Karin Schermbrucker / AP Photo

A doctor examines chest X-rays at a tuberculosis clinic in Gugulethu, Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Nov. 9, 2007. South Africa reported 343,000 TB cases in 2006, of which an estimated 6,000 were multi-drug-resistant. The government says that there have been about 400 cases of XDR-TB (extremely-drug-resistant tuberculosis), but groups like Medecins Sans Frontieres say this is a big underestimate.
» More Photos
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Behind high fences patrolled by guards to prevent escape, a drab building once used for smallpox victims houses patients with a new, virtually uncurable strain of tuberculosis.
Patients sleep or sit listlessly in the 12-bed women's ward, which is equipped with a TV, a fridge and a table with a couple of loaves of bread. It's a similar scenario in the men's ward, home to a minibus taxi driver who reluctantly agreed to be admitted after exposing hundreds of people every day to his potentially lethal germs.
Critics say enforced quarantine is a violation of medical ethics and individual human rights. Health authorities - who earlier this year resorted to the courts to compel four patients to stay at the hospital - say they have no choice.
"We are dealing with very depressed people. They feel like they are in prison, but it's the only way," said senior nurse Joan Blackburn.
Andrew Speaker, an Atlanta attorney with drug-resistant tuberculosis, was held under a federal isolation order in May after he went on a European wedding trip and refused health officials' directives that he not take any commercial jets back to the U.S.
"At least our patients won't be able to get on a plane and fly around the world," said Simon Moeti, medical superintendent of the Brooklyn Chest Hospital.
South Africa's AIDS epidemic has brought a related upsurge in TB cases, including multi-drug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant strains.
South Africa reported 343,000 TB cases in 2006, of which an estimated 6,000 were multi-drug-resistant. South Africa's first official case of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, was reported last year. The government says that there have been about 400 cases, but groups like Doctors Without Borders say this is a big underestimate.
Testing methods are hopelessly slow and out of date - and it is particularly difficult to diagnose TB in HIV-positive people. Nearly 60 percent of South African TB patients have the AIDS virus. Many people with drug-resistant TB die before they are tested and treated - having probably infected other people in the meantime.
"There are challenges without answers," Moeti said. "There are people who are refusing treatment, people who want to abscond," he told journalists visiting the 308-bed clinic on the sidelines of an international TB conference that ends Monday.
Treatments are also woefully outdated and inadequate. The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development told the conference that trials of two possible drugs were promising. One of them, antibiotic moxifloxacin, could shorten treatment time and the other, PA-824, had potential for drug-resistant strains. But even if clinical trials are successful, it may take years for the drugs to reach the market.
"We can't wait that long. We need new drugs now," said Winston Zulu, a Zambian AIDS and TB activist who lost four brothers to TB.
Experts worry that the drug-resistant strains will continue to spread - largely the result of people not sticking to the six-month course of treatment for normal TB.
In the Western Cape province that includes Cape Town, 64 cases of XDR-TB have been identified this year, according to local health officials. Twenty of the patients have died and 39 of the survivors are currently being treated at Brooklyn - 24 in the fenced-off ward and others elsewhere in the hospital.
They will be there for at least six months. If they are declared clear of the disease they will be free to leave. But, with treatment of XDR-TB still in its infancy in South Africa, their longer-term prospects are unclear.
The youngest patient is just a year old. Her mother died last year, before local authorities started testing for XDR-TB, although that was most likely the cause, Moeti said.
"But she's doing OK," he added, picking up the child, who was sitting with other infants. He refused to divulge identities because of confidentiality, and journalists were not allowed to speak to patients in the clinic.
The scattered collection of small buildings was purchased from a farmer in 1872 because of its isolation. It was initially used for smallpox, then for the big influenza epidemic and now for TB. Structurally there have been few changes in the past century. Although the clinic is in dire need of a coat of paint, Moeti says its design allows for good ventilation - TB thrives in closed spaces.
Hospital authorities reluctantly decided to erect the fence around the XDR-TB unit after four patients absconded. Two guards, both wearing protective face masks, stand by the fence. Any patient wanting to go to another part of the hospital has to be accompanied. Family visits are allowed but are strictly controlled.
Patients hate going there - because of the stigma of TB and its association with AIDS. The hospital constantly struggles to get staff. It was bad enough before, but the arrival of XDR-TB has made it even worse, said Moeti.
The minibus taxi driver initially refused to be admitted, saying he couldn't afford the loss in earnings. But he eventually accepted Moeti's arguments that he was endangering the lives of countless passengers.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Crime scares French workers

Crime scares French workers02/11/2007 10:02 - (SA),,2-7-1442_2213702,00.html
Robbers shoot embassy official
Diplomat killed in Pta crash
Man 'planned attack on embassy'
What's the French for scam?
France told to extradite suspect
'Chaos' at French Consulate
Pan African Parly safety fears
Crime on the increase - UN
Boy orphaned in Rio attack
Erika Gibson, Beeld
Pretoria - Big French companies planning to invest in South Africa are considering whether workers should leave their families behind in France, due to the growing number of attacks on French citizens in the country.
Christian Bader, the French Consul-General said this on Thursday, following a criminal attack on French Military attaché Naval Captain Denis Fabré and his family.
They were held up by robbers at their house in Sandton on Monday morning.
Fabré, his wife and their children, aged seven and nine, were overpowered in the house, shoved around and tied up.
The robbers looted their house of its domestic appliances, packed everything into the family's car and sped off.
Bader said no-one had been injured, but the family of four had been badly traumatised.
'It is quite terrible'
"One expects of your senior diplomats to continue undisturbed with their work as representatives of France, but one can't tell a woman and children that they're not supposed to be upset. It is quite terrible," he said.
Bader said he fully understood the misgivings of French companies.
Preventive measures are usually considered in countries where there is a civil war or conflict - such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo a few years ago, or Iraq.
Bader said the families of employees were particularly vulnerable when the families were left at home alone during business trips.
Some embassies are considering housing their employees in closed security complexes, he added