Thursday

Chirac's Iraq Warning

The world is more dangerous, warns Chirac.

Primetime Live

If you live in San Fransisco or somewhere in the Bay Area, or perhaps even further than that, at 10 p.m. today, Primetime Live Ch. 7 is showing Britain's Prince Harry witnessing the devastation wrought by the AIDS epidemic in Lesotho. Watch it, and tell the rest of us how it was.

Friday

Lesotho FA President Dies

Thabo Makakole, President of the Lesotho Football Association, died on Thursday, 11 November 2004 "after a commuter taxi collided with his vehicle." The Lesotho soccer family, whose sport is seemingly going places due to his efforts, and the Makakole family, will miss him dearly.

Apartheid-era spies still in Zim jail

"In legal terms, Zimbabwe is within its rights to continue holding South African nationals who were jailed for bombing African National Congress targets in Zimbabwe during the apartheid era," says a Zimbabwean lawyer.
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Thursday

Hope

"Lesotho is set to benefit from a Canadian AIDS initiative, to be launched in December.

In response to an appeal by UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, the Ontario Hospital Association in Canada will set up a clinic in the tiny mountain kingdom, where an estimated 30 percent of adults are living with HIV/AIDS.

According to Russell Armstrong, vice president of the Ottawa Hospital and part of the project, an advance team is expected to provide a complete assessment of how the clinic can become sustainable by building relationships with elders, government officials and local medical personnel.

Canadian newspaper The Ottawa Citizen quoted Armstrong as saying: 'It's particularly exciting, since we will be one of the first projects to set up since the availability of lower-cost drugs.'"
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What's in the News: Lesotho

Did You Know? Formerly known as Basutoland, Lesotho gained independence from South Africa in 1966. That declaration appears here. Despite my protest e-mail, the webmaster did not deem it necessary to modify this stark error. After all, if this small country is a complete enclave of the bigger country, it must have been part of it before, not so?

Ironically, the page in question is called, "What's in the News."

More bad news

An estimated 15% of babies born in Lesotho become infected with HIV each year, the Lesotho government and Unicef said on Wednesday.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and the government released a mid-term review on Wednesday of their programme of co-operation for 2002-07. The review noted that a baby born to an HIV-positive mother has a 25% to 35% chance of becoming infected during birth or through breast-feeding.

"Between 5000 and 7000 children born every year... are infected with HIV, the majority through mother-to-child-transmission," reads the report.
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Monday

Mike's Take

Here is Mike's take on Falluja, the gates of hell, and on who's next.

Sunday

Comments

Haloscan's comments script is gone. It is in general very good, and has served this blog well. I can't seem to get used to "losing" comments though, as is the case with haloscan comments. They just disappear after a while.

You can still leave us your thoughts, though. You'll have to either have a blogspot account, or leave your name and url within the body of your comment. Thanks.

Arming Space

Here we go...

Tweaking the Faith

Since 2 November I've been all over the web. People are worried. To be sure, many are tickled pink, but the worried ones seem to express their feeling better, or more often. I'm worried, too, despite declarations, by some of my peers, to the effect that Bush II's policies will not affect my corner of the world.

Those who aren't necessarily worried are dumbstruck: How did he do it? How did he win? I don't really know, but I'd bet on the Tweaking-the-Faith school. I believe that under certain circumstances most religious people will ignore any other important signs to the contrary, and act in line with what they suppose their faith dictates.
Kerry was also backed up by a 'ground operation' that succeeded in turning out record numbers of voters. But it was not enough. The Democrats simply missed the main issues of the day: religion and values. That this was central to the result is seen in the views of Anthony Falzarano, who runs an antique shop in Ohio's Jefferson County. Falzarano, who lives in an area of the state dominated by closed steel mills and hit by job losses, has not been able to afford healthcare for seven years. Nor have his wife or his children. But that did not dictate his vote. He is an evangelical Christian. 'I support Bush,' he said 'We are closet Republicans and there are a lot of us around here.' The polls showed that it was Falzarano and Rove, not the Democratic pundits, who were proved [sic] right.
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What actually did it, in my view, are the anti-abortion, the no-gay-marriages and the no-stem-cell-research stances -- and not much else. Not the fear of terrorism, not the war in Iraq, and certainly not domestic policies. It is so easy to use religion to get one's way that women were and are still discriminated against because the Bible "says so." Apartheid was driven by religion most of the time.

Usually, however, the one who tweaks faith and uses the faithful for any sort of personal gain is called a guru. That's how strongly I feel this vote was based not on all the issues, not on the current or past state of affairs, not on economical common sense, but on other-worldly considerations. It must really be tough on those who fail to understand how George Bush carried off the election, because they're right not to understand. It's a 100-to-one situation. If the 101 issues are considered, Kerry wins. If the 100 issues are considered, Kerry wins. If the one issue is considered, Bush wins. The one issue was considered.

Politics are particularly cruel in one respect: labels don't have to reflect their dictionary meanings, while voters often only have the dictionary meaning in mind. I'm thinking of values. The Bush camp redefined the term and got away with it. "Something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable." [Merriam-Webster]; "A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable." [Dictionary.com]; "Beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something)." [Word-Reference.com]. Politics thus become a marketing exercise. In this case, it involved selling "an eskimo snow" and succeeding. Right after the 2000 vote, a friend from California came to see us. She said she'd voted for Bush. "What the hell for?" I wondered with an open mouth. "Because he has moral values," was the reply. What could I say? I don't think George has moral values, because if he did, he wouldn't have killed, lied or swindled. But my friend is a Christian fundamentalist, and I'm sure she voted for the Bush camp this time around, too. In marketing, a term may stick to a product, even if the term doesn't intrinsically reflect the qualities of that product. Think of the following terms, and try to link them to the product they represent: soft drinks: new generation; cars: safe; cars: engineering; toothpaste: cavities; cigarettes: real man. See what I mean?

The strategy was brilliant because in the end, what each side wanted was to win the election. Karl packaged his product and sold it off brilliantly.

Friday

Aloe Polyphylla

The spiral aloe is a rare and beautiful aloe from the high Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. It does not occur naturally anywhere outside Lesotho with the exception of one record on the Lesotho border with the Free State. There are apparently also unsubstantiated reports of it growing in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg.

Wednesday

Blount County, TN

Republican: Bush (Incumbent)
33,240
68%

Democratic: Kerry
15,042
31%

Independent: Nader
204
1%

Other: Badnarik & Peroutka
134 & 88
0%
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I wasn't really surprised that Blount County in East Tennessee voted 68% for Bush. I should know... I went to school there. I was rather surprised, however, that the whole country leaned that way. Well, not the whole country, really; more like a little over half. As President Bush said, "America has spoken." What is it saying, though?

Is America saying it wants to hand out its form of moral values to everyone else? And that despite pre-war lies and the very hard, resultant existences led by so many people involved? Is it saying it wants all stem cell research to cease (by the way, I have a sick relative, how about you)? Abortion to be rendered illegal?

Whatever the message behind this 4-year mandate, it is skin off the noses of American voters and less off mine, even though their decision spills out beyond their borders. So four more years it is. I think those Americans who voted for Kerry should continue to stand up and be heard. The opposite is unthinkable.

Tuesday

Vote, Vote, Vote.

If you are American, and you have registered to vote, please do so. Vote the issues, not the party. But vote. It's important for America but also, unfortunately, for the world. The past four years have darkened my horizon as well as many other people's. Have they brightened yours? Do you look at the world today and feel... what... hope? Fear? Every voice counts. Your voice counts. I'm asking you to vote on the issues because that's precisely what voting should be about; I also believe that John Kerry has a headstart on George Bush. It is truly unfortunate that folks like myself, foreigners, should feel obliged to gate crash a sovereign vote. But there, you have it. Your vote is sovereign by name only. Whoever rules your country practically rules mine. So I'll say it again: Vote for Kerry or vote against George Bush. Your pick.

Lower Human Well-being

A CSIR study has determined that human well-being is plummeting in Lesotho, or in the Gariep Basin, to be exact. First raised eyebrow is, how do you measure human well-being?
The study found a continued high birth rate among the poor in the Gariep Basin, so that the annual population growth now outstripped the increase in gross domestic product (GDP). The GDP per person has been declining steadily since 1980.

The gap was widening between the educated, wealthy segment of the population and the uneducated, rapidly increasing poor population. This had resulted in a steady decrease in the human development index. This index, developed by the UN Development Programme, assesses human well-being by measuring factors like poverty, literacy, education and life expectancy.
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As far as Lesotho is concerned, the gap between rich and poor has been widening since the late 1980s. Before then, I remember folks coming to Maseru for work from the surrounding villages, and actually finding work and accomodation. The curve was probably pointing upwards, then. What happened? The drought? Corruption? Qomatsi? AIDS?

I think that this latter one must be defeated before we can hope for any kind of solace. Apartheid is officially gone, and it is true that it helped keep a certain percentage of the population hungry and under the water, despite more-than-enough food production in the region.
About 90 percent of South Africa's food consumption was met by domestic production, with enough calories and protein produced in the Gariep Basin to feed the country.

However, food insecurity still affected millions, a problem entrenched by apartheid policies that restricted access to land and other resources. The result is impoverished rural and peri-urban communities, surrounding pockets of affluence and wellbeing.
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