Monday, January 31, 2005


I posted a News Report from a US Funded Food Monitoring Body below. Having read the report myself several times I am left wondering what others would think of this Report? Does it come across as "what a load of rubbish?". Seems a fair amount of one saying this, and the other saying that, and what is the Truth? "Are you joking? - you gotta be joking" In fact I would not be surprised if you did not believe a word anyone said in that Report. I would be interested to hear your views.....

Zimbabwe Report

Zimbabwe hunger claims 'US plot' .

The government says land reform has been a success. The Zimbabwe government has angrily denied reports that half the population will need food aid this year.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the report was part of western plans to destabilise Zimbabwe ahead of elections due in March, state media reported.
A US-funded food monitoring body said last week that almost six million Zimbabweans would need food aid before the next harvest. The opposition accuses the government of using food as a political tool. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says its supporters are denied state hand-outs.
Last year, Mr Made said that, after three years of shortages, Zimbabwe had grown more than enough food to feed the population and even had a surplus.
Last week, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network reported that, of the 12.5 million Zimbabweans, some 5.8 million would need food aid before the next harvests in April.
"You see God has been smiling on us and we are lucky that in the northern parts there were some good rains in the last few days and crops are doing well," Mr Made was reported as saying in The Herald newspaper.

'Outpost of tyranny'

Government critics say the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks has led to food shortages. These claims are also rejected by the government. "The land reform is a resounding success under the circumstances," Mr Made said.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described Zimbabwe as one the world's last "outposts of tyranny." The US and the European Union accuse President Robert Mugabe of rigging his 2002 re-election. Mr Mugabe denies the claims.
This is a BBC News Report from a US Food Funded Group.



"It is by Forgiving that one is Forgiven.


The release on this day of Michael Jackson's


and is the biggest selling album of all time so far.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Know your Limits...
But never stop trying to exceed them!


This morning I got up well in time to feed the cats, check the birds
shower, get dressed and arrange my breakfast to be able to sit and
watch the Australian Tennis Grand Slam Men's Final. I was very
disappointed when Agassi was knocked out earlier in the week.
Australia's Lleyton Hewitt came out in a blaze of glory to win the
1st set easily against the Russian, Marat Safin, who now lives in
Monaco. The standard of tennis was very good, but somehow it
was not quite the same excitement of the Borg, McEnroe or Connors
era. There was the usual smashing of his racket by Safin, and the
loud "Come on" from Hewitt. To begin with I thought Hewitt was
going to win easily, but Safin, even tho' he had to have time out for
an injury, came through to win fairly easily in 4 sets. I did enjoy
watching the match.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


A rumour without a leg to stand on
will get around some other way.


The Victoria Cross was instituted in U.K. on this day in 1856.
The highest decoration for Conspicuous Bravery in armed service.

Friday, January 28, 2005

South African Trade Union Visit

This is a report from the BBC

ANC moves to back Zimbabwe trip

Cosatu feels trade union solidarity with Zimbabwe's oppositionSouth Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has moved to back a controversial trade union mission to Zimbabwe ahead of March elections. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) wants its visit to highlight Zimbabwe's political crisis. Last year, a Cosatu delegation was expelled from Zimbabwe and the ANC initially opposed a second trip. The BBC Southern Africa correspondent says the Zimbabwe government will not welcome the ANC's change of tack. South Africa is seen as a key player in attempts to resolve Zimbabwe's problems and some have called for it to stop supplying subsidised electricity to put pressure on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.


The BBC's Barnaby Phillips says several ANC ministers have been publicly supportive of Mr Mugabe, whereas Cosatu has criticised human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Mugabe insists that the elections will be fairZimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was formed by trade unions and correspondents say Cosatu feels union solidarity with the MDC. Zimbabweans ministers have said that the Cosatu team would not be welcome.
But before getting ANC backing for next week's trip Cosatu dropped meetings with civil society leaders, disappointing Zimbabwean human rights activists.
In Zimbabwe, two MDC MPs have been arrested in recent days after holding political meetings.
The MDC says this shows the government is not serious about holding free and fair parliamentary elections which are expected in March. Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party denies rigging two previous elections. Mr Mugabe has appointed an independent electoral commission to oversee the poll - a key part of new regional electoral guidelines, which Zimbabwe says it will respect.

Rich or Poor



English Explorer, Henry Hudson, discovered Hudson Bay in 1610.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


I am only One, but I am One.
I cannot do Everything, but I can do Something.

Pat On My Back!

Today, at 9.40 a.m. I had to attend the Doctor's
surgery. No big deal you might say, but for me this
particular trip was a going to be a mile stone for me!
Like many others I know, me and anything to do with
needles just do NOT see eye to eye. From the time I
made the appointment last week, I have hardly slept, I
have had nightmares and the runs. I am forgetful,
more so than usual I have say, and at times talk utter
You see I needed to have two injections and a blood
test. That's 3 different needles all in the one
day!!! I was assured I need only have what I felt I
was able to cope with. Armed with my Bach's Rescue
Remedy I took off to walk the half hour to get to the
surgery (Am in no fit state to drive the car after any
injection) I arrived spot on time and in the waiting
area, I sat next to a neighbour who had come with her
car and she told me that I had made her feel very
guilty for not walking as well.This did not help me in any
way. It should have done I suppose. Before I knew it my
name was called out. I tried looking the other way, saying
noooooo not today, but found myself getting up and walking
into my temple of doom. I had met the nurse at a Civic
Trust meeting last night and she assured me that she would
have it all done before I knew it. Of course I believed her -
did I hell? Well to be honest she was right. As
normal I needed to lie down and try to relax myself
all the while she was talking about what we had seen
the night before, and true to her word the two
injections, one in each arm, were over in a flash.
OMG the blood test next, I felt a panic starting as I
could feel the binding on my arm getting tighter. She
asked me a question and I started to talk utter
rubbish in reply and before I knew it, it too was all
over. Phew I said to myself as I lay on the bed trying
to get a hold of all my fears and sense the relief
that it was over. I was so pleased with myself that
I had got all 3 injections done, I had not fainted,
cried or anything else for that matter. I heard the
nurse saying how pleased she was with me, that I had
done really well, surpassed myself in fact. This was
music to my ears and I got up off the bed to go to the
chair and ooopppss, that was a trifle too quick as I
felt my head starting to go round and round.Hey
but it was all done and I could go on my trip now.
I am going to Namibia to work with the Cheetah
Foundation for 2 weeks.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


The largest diamond in the world the Cullinan diamond, was
discovered near Pretoria in South Africa on this day in 1905.


I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it,
Forced upon me, can't refuse it,
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it,
But it's up to me to use it,
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give account if I abuse it,
But Eternity is in it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Dont put off for Tomorrow,
What you can do Today,
Because if you enjoyed it Today,
You can do it again Tomorrow.

A Thought

If you Add to the Truth - You Subtract from It.

Monday, January 24, 2005


South Africa's Lions Den murder trial begins. The victim was dumped at a white lion breeding projectThe trial of three men accused of feeding a black former farm worker to South African lions has been adjourned after one of them pleaded guilty.

Mark Scott-Crossley, Richard Mathebula and Simon Mathebula, were expected to plead not guilty, but Richard Mathebula apparently changed his mind. The three are accused of tying Nelson Chisale up and throwing him into an enclosure used for breeding lions.

The post-mortem examination found that Mr Chisale was mauled to death. Richard Mathebula, 41, told the court in the courthouse in Phalaborwa, on the edge of Kruger National Park: "I would say I plead guilty because I followed instructions given to me by my employer." His lawyers then asked for, and were granted, an adjournment. Trade union leaders say the case highlights the widespread abuse of farm labourers in South Africa. Mr Scott-Crossley is white, while his two alleged accomplices, and the victim, are black.

A fourth man arrested with the accused has agreed to testify against them. The court papers say Mr Chisale, a father of three, had returned to the farm from where he had been sacked two months earlier, to pick up some personal belongings. It is claimed that attackers set upon him with knives, bound him up with rope and electrical wire, and drove him to Mokwalo White Lion Project at Hoedspruit, about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Johannesburg. He was then allegedly thrown over the fence into the lion enclosure.

Police recovered his skull, body parts and the remains of his clothes more than a week later.


Gold was discovered near Coloma, California by
James Marshall in 1848 heralding the gold rush.


A Shared Joy is a Double Joy
shared sorrow is half a sorrow.


It was interesting to read that the last Monday of January (this year 24th) has been voted the most depressing day of the year. I realise Christmas, with all its family get togethers and presents and arguements is long past. As are all the New Year festivities and hangovers. Next comes the January Sales and with what little money one has left, it is a free for all trying to find a bargain. If you have no money left you get depressed, so you either buy on credit and have huge debts to pay off and that makes you more depressed. There are still a few days till Pay Day and there is hardly anything left in the freezer, and far worse nothing to drink causing more depression. All your New Year's resolutions have gone by the board. If you want to go to the Doctor for a friendly chat, they are full up and can only see you 1st week in February, this makes you mad and more depression sets in. If you put the T.V. on all you get is doom and gloom, with politicians promising you the world (election time anyway) and T.V. Advertisements showing your all sorts of things you would like, and cant have. And finally the most depressing thing of all are all the Holidays being advertised to far away places which are nice and warm, while you are fighting the elements of frost, wind and snow. Days are short and its very cold, and it seems ages till Spring will arrive.

Everyone all together now "Aaaaaaaawwwwwwww"!!!!

I see that day is today - Am feeling fine - How about You?

But Hey! Spring does arrive every year with all the new growth on the trees and shrubs. Birds making their nests, and their babies are born. Hundreds of tiny frolicking lambs out in the fields. Everything is green again and new life abounds everywhere. After Winter, Spring garden bulbs shoot up and they are just a mass of colour in lilac, white, purple and yellow. Then daffodils cover the landscape followed by all the different colours of tulips.

It's a Wonderful World.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


The greatest Oak was once a little Nut
who held his gound!

Saturday, January 22, 2005


The Norwegian government has decided to kill five of the country's grey wolves - a quarter of the entire population.
It says the decision is necessary to protect domestic livestock, but one campaign group has condemned the cull.
WWF-Norway says two wolves have been shot already, one of them from a pack which has not been targeted and which it fears may now not manage to survive.
Wolves are protected in Norway, and are listed as critically endangered, and WWF says many people oppose the cull.
The decision to kill five animals out of the 20 remaining in Norway was taken by the nature directorate, which advises the government. WWF-Norway is calling for an immediate halt to the hunt. Survival 'at risk'
Its head, Rasmus Hansson, said: "If the Norwegian environment minister does not stop this hunt, he will have the dubious honour of allowing the regular hunting of a nationally endangered species.

Breeding may be at risk The culling of 20-30% of a population this size is a serious threat to the survival of this species in Norway.
"This practice is contrary to internationally accepted standards for wildlife management. No other country that I know of has such an aggressive policy towards its wolves."
The Norwegian parliament decided last May the country should sustain at least three family packs of wolves.
Packs can range in size from two adults to 10 or more animals covering several generations. WWF says the current hunt will reduce the number of packs to two at most.
Mr Hansson told the BBC: "One wolf from the pack to be culled was shot on 15 January, and another female from a different pack on 21 January.
"We don't know the exact size of the targeted pack, because we don't know whether it produced any cubs last summer. If it did, they will be left orphaned.Now, in all likelihood, by killing the wrong animal they've ruined another pack. The animal was an alpha female, so breeding may be affected and the pack could dissolve."

Norway's wolves are now very rare WWF says there were an estimated 50-80 wolves in the southern part of Norway and Sweden in 2001, consisting of several families.
That year Norway approved the culling of eight out of its 25 wolves, leaving 20 today, because the target was not met.
A recent study of the wider Scandinavian wolf population concluded there were 120 at the most.
Mr Hansson said: "There is a serious risk of genetic degradation in this population because of its small size. A genetically healthy population... should have at least 800 individuals."
He told the BBC: "The cull is meant to protect sheep. Sheep farming occupies 90% of Norway's territory.
"We have 250-300,000 moose and 30,000 reindeer. In that perspective 800 wolves shouldn't be too many, though we've never suggested it - it's just a biological fact."


Mild earthquake 'like explosion'

A mild earthquake hit Perthshire late on Thursday evening, police have confirmed.
The epicentre of the tremor was five kilometres north west of Killin, north of Stirling.
Several householders called Central Scotland Police after hearing a mystery large bang at
about 2220 GMT. Some described it as an explosion or sonic boom and others said they
felt the ground shake and their windows rattled.

Once an emergency had been ruled out, police contacted the British Geological Survey. Records were checked and it was found that there had been a tremor, registering 2.7 on the Richter Scale.


Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 - 1901 died in
Osborne House, on this day on the Isle of Wight 1901.

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,A small bent over piece of brown cardboard tied onto a post on the side ofthe road was all the sign I needed to tell me I was headed in the rightdirection this Friday. The Stop sign at the junction of the intersectionhas gone. The road markings warning me to stop have long since worn offthe tar. The road is littered with potholes and the grass on the verges isuncut and about five foot high, making it almost impossible to seeoncoming traffic. I stopped at the intersection and across the road onepiece of white string held a poster to a street light whose bulb hasn'tworked for months. The wind had folded the poster in half so I couldn'tread it but this too made me believe I was going the right way. When I gotto the gates of the school I slowed down, pulled over and looked at theline of yobs sitting on the wall in front of the school hall. They weremen and women in their late teens and early twenties and clearly had noreason to be in a junior school where the oldest pupil is 12. Some of theyobs were wearing T shirts with slogans advertising the ruling party andthen I knew for sure I had arrived at the right place to check if my namewas on the voters roll.I was absolutely determined not to be intimidated by a bunch of boredbullies. I had read the reports by the opposition that in some areas theirsupporters had been physically assaulted after checking if their nameswere on the voters roll. It would have been very comforting to see thefriendly face or colourful vest of an independent election observer but ofcourse that's just a pipe dream. As I walked past the yobs sprawled on thewall, someone hissed and someone else passed a comment which set them allto laughing but it was water off a ducks back compared to what I'd had toendure in the last two Zimbabwean elections. Inside the junior school hallthere was a singing lesson in progress and a teacher was trying to get aclass of seven year olds to sit up straight, stop pushing each other andpay attention and sing. The sound of the children singing was wonderfuland their innocence such a stark contrast to the bullies on the walloutside. I was the only person checking if my name was on the votersroll. There was no one ahead of me or behind me, no queue outside, no onewaiting in the car park and with just a week left for voters rollinspection, this is not a good sign.The opposition MDC have still not announced if they are going to take partin the March poll so basically, just weeks away from an election, there isapathy, confusion and a tired resignation by many ordinary people who justsay they couldn't be bothered anymore.I sit at my desk on a Saturday morning writing this letter and it is aglorious day. The sky is blue, rain clouds are gathering on the horizonand birds flit backwards and forwards past the open window in an endlessfashion parade. Paradise fly catchers with long orange tails, migrant beeeaters, red bishop birds, yellow weavers and so many others with theirspectacular breeding tails and exotic colours. Over the road from me awoman and two little children live in a wooden shack on a building site.They always smile, laugh and wave and clap with cupped hands if I stop togive even a single sweetie. I know people who have been tortured,murdered, abused, raped and imprisoned in Zimbabwe's fight for democraticgovernance since February 2000. All of these reasons are good enough onesfor me to go and check if my name is on the voters roll and then to endurewhatever is necessary to cast a ballot in the March elections. Until nextweek, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 22 January 2005. http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable in Europe from: ; ; in Australia and New ; Africa:

Friday, January 21, 2005


Britain's first Test-Tube Triplets were born in 1984.

Second Chance

If we might have a second chance
to live the days once more,
and recitify mistakes we've made
to even up the score.
If we might have a second chance
to use the knowledge gained,
perhaps we might become at last
as fine as God ordained,
But though we can't retrace our steps
however stands the score,
tomorrow brings another chance,
for us to try once more.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Terry Waite was kidnapped in Beirut on this day in 1987.

Trip to the Big City!

I got up early yesterday, jumped on a bus to go and join the crowd that was going to the big city by bus, to a theatre for an afternoon performance of "Mamma Mia". We arrived before lunch so there was time to have a look around at the shops. It was very busy and most shops had their Spring fashions in already. Later when I sat down in a Mall to have a coke, I was gobsmacked to see a young lad and a young girl with their hands in handcuffs being led away in tears by 3 memebers of the Police force, several of the Mall Security and probably the Manager of the shop who had phoned the Police. I could not help but stare as they all passed by me, and I realised in horror that my mouth was wide open with amazement, and what a country bumpkin I was. I was in the big city where all the action takes place, not at all like where I live, in a small village where the sound of an ambulance siren is the only disturbing noise we get. The show was very good indeed. At first I was disappointed as I felt there was not enough singing. For some reason I thought it was going to be non stop singing. But I soon got into the storyline that was made up to be able to use most of Abba's songs, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. On the way home we stopped and all 53 of us sat down to a very nice meal indeed. The other bus that followed behind us when we left, contacted our Driver to say that he was missing 2 people and he was still waiting for them on a road by the theatre. It was much later than usual when we returned to the pick up point in the morning. A number of us walked to the bus station where taxis and buses took us all our various ways. I had a long wait before my bus left, and I got home just before midnight to a couple of cats, who obviously wondered where the hell had I been, as they had eaten everything I had left down for them before I left in the morning. Their plates were licked clean and not a sign of a biscuit to be seen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005



Rhinos at risk to move to safety. Some of the last few northern white rhinos still alive are being moved from their home in central Africa amid fears that poachers will wipe them out. Five of the animals are to be flown from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kenya in the next month. Fewer than 10 of them are believed to remain in the wild. A spokeswoman for DR Congo's Garamba national park says the government has approved relocation after poaching outstripped local conservation efforts. The decline means the rhino is thought to be the most endangered large mammal on earth. There are 10 in zoos in the Czech Republic and the US, but only one calf have been born in captivity in the last decade.- Find out more about why rhinos are threatened-

Become a member- Make a donation and support our cause-
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Dont you just love it when your computer starts talking to you!
The latest short and to the point conversation I have had, is that
I have been informed I can't get to send any emails. I am logged
on, password accepted by everyone else but my puter will not let
me send any emails. Keeps asking me to put in my password,
which I do of course, I mean one has to keep on the right side of
one's computer otherwise I may not be allowed to play solitaire!
These things always happen, naturally, when it is important to let
a friend know at what time you will be arriving for a short stay.
I have a feeling that my puter wants me to have a good clean out
of my email folders, and is not going to let me contact anyone until
I do a thorough job of eliminating letters I have kept for ages.


Cary Grant - the actor - was born in Bristol on this day 1987.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown have talks.

Mandela backs Brown over Africa

Nelson Mandela has backed Britain's plan to tackle povertyGordon Brown has said that former South African President Nelson Mandela will personally urge the world's richest nations to do more to help Africa.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner will visit London in February to speak to the G7 group, Mr Brown said in South Africa.
Mr Mandela agreed to the visit during a private meeting with the UK chancellor at the Nobel Peace Prize winner's home.
Mr Brown is nearing the end of end of his tour of the African continent where he announced debt relief measures.
'Good scheme'
During 2005, the UK will hold the rotating presidencies of the G7, as well as the enlarged G8 which includes Russia, and the European Union. He has signed deals with Mozambique and Tanzania to take on 10% of their debt to international lenders, and promised to do so with 70 more among the world's poorest nations.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Mandela applauded the UK chancellor's pledges and ideas for Africa which have been dubbed a "new Marshall plan".
"My first impression is that it is a good scheme and I wish more people would have a Marshall plan for Africa," he said.
Mr Brown told BBC News 24 that Mr Mandela is a hugely influential figure.
He said: "I believe there is growing support in the international community for the plans being put forward.
Mr Mandela "carries a huge authority around the world and I know when he talks to leaders in America, Europe or elsewhere he persuades them it's necessary to take action," Mr Brown went on.
"I think he wants to bring to their attention that the Marshall Plan is one way forward to be able to deal with the problems that he for his whole life has felt passionately about, that we take action to reduce infant and maternal mortality, tackle HIV/Aids and reduce poverty in many parts of Africa."
Mr Brown is also expected to announce plans to boost trade in poor countries when he and the Commission for Africa meets some of the continent's finance ministers in Cape Town on Monday.
The commission has been set up by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to tackle the economic problems facing the continent. Speaking to the Sunday Times newspaper, Mr Manuel said "obscene inequalities" between rich and poor nations were widening. Mr Mandela added: "I am one of those who had TB who spoke openly and nobody stigmatises me for that."
The chancellor met children orphaned by Aids during his visit to Africa.
He said that money, better research and healthcare were not enough to tackle the disease and a change of attitude was required to end the stigma.

Top of The Pops.

Elvis was Top of The Pops No 1 on Sunday 16th January with his song "One Night" - his 20th record to reach the top of the charts. No 0ne else has achieved this.

Recording artists aspired to be able to sing their hit song on Top of the Pops live.

TOTPs was watched by millions here and programme was seen by many other countries too.

People scrambled for tickets to be in the studio to watch the programme and see the artists singing their song live.

It is an sad inditement of the current pop scene, that the BBC will in April, demote TOTPs to a BBC2 programme due to lack of viewers.


Captain James Cook is the first to cross Antartic circle 1773.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The End of the Dakar Rally 2005

Cyril Despres came to this Dakar with two objectives: To win his first Dakar and at the same time remember the loss of his fallen friend Richard Sainct, who died on September 29th whilst competing on the Pharaoh Rally in Egypt, but following the death of his second master, Fabrizio Meoni, the Frenchman was torn apart, making this victory even more significant.
"It was a good thing that the fight carried on because I think I deserve what I came for even more: first position," he said. "During the tests that we did in Tunisia, we had made the promise with Fabrizio to put a 'blue bike' on the podium.
"My main achievement is to have managed that goal, for him and for Richard," he added. "It's an indescribable feeling. I don't want to be sad but that's how I feel. I don't want to be happy but it's difficult not to be."
Despres finished 9min 17secs ahead of Spain's Marc Coma who backed up last year's promising eleventh position on his debut with a fine second this year, taking his first maiden win on stage 11.
"I'm very happy with my second place overall and I would have signed for it before the rally," he said. "But the circumstances make the result less important this year.
"I would only like the people to get together and think about what happened so that the rally takes a new good direction, making it better for everybody."
South Africa's Alfie Cox celebrated his third position after being pushed all the way by Spain's Isidre Esteve Pujol over the final few stages, eventually taking the final place on the podium by just 22 seconds from his KTM team-mate.


There is a past which has gone forever,
but there is a future which is still our own.

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
When I wrote the first of these letters to family and friends back inFebruary 2000, I was a farmer. I have told the story of what happened onour farm before, and of some of the horrors on 3000 other farms that wereseized across Zimbabwe. In 2000, The Commercial Farmers Union, to whom Ipaid membership fees and crop and livestock levies, were supposed torepresent my interests as a farmer. As the weeks went past and I wroteabout the abuses being inflicted on my family, our employees and theirfamilies and our property and livestock, the CFU told me to stop makingwaves. The CFU said that I should not be confrontational with the rabblewho were pulling down fences, chopping trees and erecting shacks on ourfarm. The CFU said that I should engage in "dialogue" with drunk anddrugged men who came to the gate and demanded my car, ordered me to leavemy home or pointed a gun at me and threatened to shoot me. When I wrotenewspaper articles about what was happening to other farmers, the CFUwould have nothing to do with me. In confidence I was told that it hadbeen stipulated that my name was forbidden from being mentioned in any CFUmeetingsThe CFU have continued to attempt to appease the Zimbabwe government forthe last 59 months. When court orders were ignored, laws were changed andthe constitution was amended in relation to farms, still the CFU calledfor dialogue with the government. Farmers were murdered, tortured,abducted and arrested and the CFU said its dwindling membership shoulddownsize, share their land and talk to government officials. Hundreds,thousands and then hundreds of thousands of farm workers became homeless,destitute beggars living in the bush and the CFU still called for dialoguewith the government. A law was passed protecting squatters from evictionand another allowing government to compulsorily acquire farm materials andequipment but still the CFU said dialogue was the only way forward.Below are extracts from a letter written by the Midlands branch of theCFU. I would like to suggest that if the CFU have any money left over theywill donate it either to the team campaigning to free farmer and MP RoyBennett from prison or to some of the three hundred thousand farmers andfarm workers who have been made destitute by the Zimbabwean land reformprogramme. As a former farmer and onetime member of the CFU, I hang myhead in disgust and shame.CFU MIDLANDS"We have received a request to donate cattle, chickens and mealie meal toa welcoming reception next week for the new Vice President, Joyce Mujuru.This request has come to us through the Midlands Leadership ... I suggestthat each member pay in 1 million in cash to Bob at the CFU office by theend of business hours on Monday the 10th January 2005, as we need tosecure these donations from our sector by Wednesday the 12th. Eachindividuals name will be on the list of donors when we present thedonations so think hard before you do nothing. It is a strategy that Ibelieve will ultimately lead to benefits of sorts in the future. But itis like gambling. ... For those non-members I say to you all that unity isour best defense. This we are not, we all are to blame as we now findourselves divided and ruled. To change this we must change - unite andstick together and speak with one voice. When the time comes forsignificant changes to the current situation we have been pushed intokicking and screaming foul play, then more than ever the voices of thedivided will not be heard clearly and negotiations will be held from apoint of weakness. Is this what we want, choose for yourselves.........To end all I can safely say is that there is some activitycurrently in progress and I'm sure you will understand that this is atpresent too sensitive to disclose ........Your Chairman, TREVOR SHAW ANDOFFICE STAFF. P.S. Cash or Kind 1 ton Mealie Meal or Potatoes etc, 5Steers for slaughter, 100 Chickens. We need about 30 million forthis...."Until next week, with love, cathy Copyright cathy buckle 15th January 2005. books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: ; inAustralia and New Zealand: ; Africa:

Saturday, January 15, 2005


On Sunday night Elvis - The King - will he enter the Building? - MAYBE!

After 53 years and 999 chart-toppers, the 1000th No 1 is due to be revealed on Sunday - and sales figures suggest the honour will belong to Elvis' re-released classic "One Night".
If Presley triumphs, it would be fitting, as he currently holds the record for the most No 1 singles in the UK chart (19 so far) - and has been hitting the top spot since the early days of the hit parade.
But of course, the No 1 single has come a long way in the past six decades. The first No 1, in November 1952, was Al Martino's "Here In My Heart", which held the top spot for nine weeks.
The same decade also saw Bill Haley become the first artist to sell over a million with a number one single, when "Rock Around The Clock" reached the top in 1955.
It was also the decade in which Elvis topped the charts for the first time, with "All Shook Up" in July 1957.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Dakar Rally

Dakar legend Ari Vatanen has extended his record of stage wins to 51 after setting the fastest time on Friday's 529km stage from Kayes to Tambacounda in Senegal. In the Moto category, Brazilian Jean De Azevedo (KTM) took his first stage win of this year's event as Cyril Despres consolidated his lead
It is apparent that the riders of this year's Dakar are now only thinking about making to the Rose Lake following the tragic deaths of Jose Manuel Perez and Fabrizio Meoni, who was buried yesterday in his home town of Castiglion Fiorentino.
No one would begrudge Cyril Despres the victory, putting the Gauloises KTM team the perfect remembrance to both Richard Sainct and Fabrizio Moeni, and it is for this reason that the factory KTM riders have visibly reduced their speed, allowing the likes of Brazilian Jean De Azevedo to take today's stage win.
De Azevedo flew through today's laterite stages, villages and water splashes in a time of 5h 10m 56s to beat Frenchman David Fretigne into second by just ten seconds. American Chris Blais was third, 23 seconds adrift, with Alfia Cox easing his way home in fourth, 34 seconds down on the winner.
Spain's Marc Coma was fifth fastest, 3 minutes 10 seconds adrift, with Esteve Pujol sixth and Cyril Despres consolidating his overall lead in seventh. The Frenchman now has a 12min 16sec lead over Coma going into the final two stages.
Finland's Ari Vatanen is halfway towards his goal of winning two stages on this year's Dakar after taking his first win on Friday's 529km stage from Kayes to Tambacounda in Senegal. The four-time winner is hoping to remain in sync with his years, and at 52-years old, the Nissan ace will be looking for another win on one of the two remaining stages.
Vatanen completed the last long stage of this year's Dakar in a time of 4h 50m 8s to beat former winner Bruno Saby (VW) into second by over nine minutes! Nissan team-mate Giniel De Villiers was third, 11min 45sec down on Vatanen, with Nani Roma celebrating his best performance so far in fourth.
Frenchman Thierry Magnaldi was fifth fastest in his Honda with Klever Kolberg (Mitsubishi) sixth, Luc Alphand seventh and Stephane Peterhansel seventh, proving that the two front runners are now under orders and cruising to the finish in Dakar.
"I am happy to be here," said Peterhansel. "We made the necessary precautions with the snorkel for the river crossings and controlled the stage today. The Nissans passed us and we drove slowly to the end of the stage."
Josep Maria Servia, who hit a tree on stage 12, decided to quit the rally after badly damaging his Schlesser-Ford buggy when he rolled it on Thursday. The pull-out was another blow for the team after boss Jean-Louis Schlesser also withdrew on Stage 7.
TOMORROW: Saturday's penultimate stage of the 2005 Dakar is the last chance for any of the chasing riders to make up any significant time in the overall standings. The 225km stage is littered with various dangers, ranging from tropical forests at the start to open savannah towards the end.


Has the Tsunami come across to us under the water to affect our weather? We have had gale force winds, with structural damage to properties, trees have fallen, houses have been flooded out, rivers over-flowed, farm land under water, and a family of 5 all swept to their deaths by the sea. Two of our local towns have come to a stand still due to grid lock by the cars, trucks and lorries and buses that were not allowed over the two large bridges due to the wind.After almost a week of this weather, today I awoke to find that the wind had at last stopped, but it was a cloudy, cold and damp winter's day. When I got home at lunch time today and walked up my drive, I saw my Snowdrop flowers, still standing there quite the thing as if nothing had happened. My bird archway had been knocked over, but nothing serious and I was soon able to get it back up, much to the bird's pleasure. I have not seen much of my birds due to this awful weather, so it was really very enjoyable to have my lunch watching them all flying in and out and scratching the ground for some of the extra goodies that I had scattered around for them.


Temperatures in north-west Russia are so mild this week that they are disrupting bears' sleep in St Petersburg's zoo, local media say.
A zoo official told Interfax news agency that a black bear had woken from hibernation, while a brown bear had still not gone to sleep for the winter.
Temperatures have reached record highs of seven degrees celsius in some areas.
The unusual warmth, accompanied by heavy winds and rain, has melted river ice and caused flooding in the city.
Storms have been causing havoc across Northern Europe in recent days, and were described as the worst to hit the neighbouring Baltic states in 40 years.
Zoologists are monitoring the unusual behaviour of the bears, who are used to winter temperatures below freezing.
Itar-Tass news agency reports that wild bears, badgers and hedgehogs are also waking up from the long winter sleep in Belarus.
And in the western Russian region of Kaliningrad, spring flowers were already in bloom as temperatures rose above 10 degrees.
Meteorologists say temperatures are expected to drop at the end of the week, with more severe cold likely towards the end of the month.


According to watchdog Transparency International, corruption remains
rampant in Kenya, listing it 129th out of 146 countries in its October 2004 report.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Elizabeth 1 was crowned Queen of England on this day at
Westminster Abbey, 13th January 1559.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Dakar Update

Giniel De Villiers has given the Nissan Rally Raid team a much-needed boost by winning Wednesday's 586km stage from Kiffa to Bamako in Mali. The South African completed the stage in 7h 20m 58s to beat the Mitsubishi's of Stephane Peterhansel and The thirteenth day of the 2005 Dakar began with a prayer this morning as competitors, mechanics and officials alike got down on one knee to pay tribute to the legendary Fabrizio Meoni who left us yesterday.
The KTM teams, and the Gauloises KTM team in particular, were expected to bring their Dakar to a premature end following Meoni's death, but during a long meeting yesterday evening, the riders instead decided to skip today's stage before restarting the Dakar in Bamako as a mark of respect to the Italian - It is what he would have wanted.
Meanwhile, the cars and trucks went ahead with today's 586km stage to Bamako and it is fitting that the victory went to South Africa's Giniel De Villiers - his first of the 2005 Dakar - bringing a much-needed boost to the Nissan Rally Raid Team after what has been a terrible event for them. De Villiers completed the stage in a time of 7 hours, 20 minutes and 58 seconds to beat overall leader and defending champion Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi) into second by 3min 1sec, extending the Frenchman's overall lead to 23min 16secs over team-mate Luc Alphand who was third on the stage.
The cars and trucks will be placed in parc ferme upon arrival in Bamako in what is the first part of this second marathon stage. The competitors, including the bikes, are unable to make any mechanical modifications to the vehicles before the start of tomorrow's 370km stage to Kayes.
The cars and trucks will be placed in parc ferme upon arrival in Bamako in what is the first part of this second marathon stage. The competitors, including the bikes, are unable to make any mechanical modifications to the vehicles before the start of tomorrow's 370km stage to Kayes.


The only people who achieve much,

are those who want knowledge so badly,

that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable.

Favourable conditons never come!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I suppose I am not surprised at developments in Asia now, although it would have been really wonderful had the spirit of wanting to do all that could be done to help in the countries, so very badly affected by the underwater earthquake and resulting Tsunamis, had been able to continue. I am not saying that nothing good is coming out of it all, as there are so many people who are decent, law abiding and doing just that, helping and doing a really good job of it all, and in some places in such terrible conditions.
I am taking about what seems to be Human Nature (at its worse I reckon) taking advantage of the situation and exploiting it to the full, and there is no doubt about it, adding to the distress of the people already very badly emotionally damaged. Some of the things I have read that are reported to have happened are just so sickening, and I despair.........
Stop the world I want to get off comes to mind!


Fabrizio Meoni has died after falling on stage 11 of the Dakar rally. Paramedics arrived within minutes, but the Italian died at the scene. The 47-year-old KTM rider was running second overall in the motorcycle category. Meoni won the Dakar rally twice, in 2001 and 2002.

Jose Manuel Perez, a Spanish motorcyclist ,who crashed on the Rally last week, has died from complications after having his spleen and a kidney removed.

Colin McCrae, the Scottish driver, is still suffering partial blindness after his violent accident last week that ended his Dakar Rally.

More than 50 racers and spectators have died in the 27 year history of the Dakar Rally.

Dakar Rally

The Dakar should return to a form of normality on Saturday's 361km stage from Tidjikja to Atar with what is predominantly a fast stage over quick tracks. The first 300km will be run at high speed before facing the mythic Winding between Atâr and Kiffa. Stage 11 is the last day in Mauritania, a tough slog through soft sand that could play havoc on fuel consumption.

The final 150 kilometres are mostly flat and fast, but motorcycle participants will need to be wary of ruts carved into the course by the Chinguetti Erg at around 20km from the finish.


Are there 'Good' Rebels or are they all Bad Rebels?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Dakar Rally

Meoni back in front as penalty reduced
More controversy surrounded the Dakar on Sunday as Fabrizio Meoni re-took the lead of the bike category - even though it was a rest day. The Italian had his ten-minute time penalty reduced to two minutes after officials adjudged he did not leave the racing lane on purpose during stage seven.
DAKAR 2005: Schlesser stage 9 analysis
The decision restores Meoni to the lead by 1min 31secs over fellow KTM rider Cyril Despres.
Even though he accepted Meoni's infringement was accidental, under-fire race director Patrick Zaniroli defended the penalty.
"The rule is the same for all rally raids," he said.
"In Meoni's case, the route was curved and he cut a corner. He didn't do it on purpose and we're not accusing him of that.
"He was focusing on his race and it was impossible to see because of the sand storm, but it gained him time and that's why he was penalised."
Car leader Peterhansel thanked his lucky stars for Sunday's rest day as Mitsubishi mechanics completely rebuilt his engine, wrecked on stage nine.
The French two-time Dakar winner was towed to the end of Saturday's leg by team-mate Hiroshi Masuoka after mis-timing pistons destroyed his engine valves.
With a full day to work on Peterhansel's stricken car - and engine designer making a timely appearance in Atar - Mitsubishi succeeded in getting his machine back on the road.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


I have been concerned by the lack of evidence of any animals on the news coverage of the countries hit by the Tsunamis. I was, therefore, very pleased to read reports that there are no sightings of dead animals. Unlike us, it says, the animals have a 6th sense of danger and in this tragedy, they all moved to higher ground. This of course brings on the debate as to whether Man is so called superior - in all things that really matter in life - to Animals!
I dont think so.............

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Stage 7 of this Rally took in 660 kilometres, with 3 check points along the way. From Zouerat to Tichit travelling on sand dunes of various sizes, and with camel grass which felt as if the bikes were hitting stones. Earlier there had been rain which made some stretches rather sticky for the bikes, with horizontal sand in their faces, making it a very hard section indeed. Once again helicopters not in evidence very much, due to heavy work load. Ended up with all the leading bikes driving together to be able to help each other when needed. A large number of the bikes were stuck in the Dunes and some got lost, with one biker taking over 22 hours to complete the Stage. David Fretigne (Fr) on his Yamaha on his lighter bike won Stage 7 for the bikes, but Marc Coma regained the over all lead.
In the Cars section Bruno Sabi in his Nissan was in the lead but damaged his car, and it is Stephane Peterhansel (Fr ) in his Mitsubishi who is now in the over all lead. Like the Motorbikes, the leading cars all drove together to help out. Luc Alfand (Fr) is now in 2nd place. Most drivers had still not been clocked in at the end of the stage by the time it got dark, and mechanics had to work around the clock to try to get the bikes in tip top shape again, if at all possible. There were 450 entries in this Rally which takes 16 days covering 8 countries. This last stage in Mauritania was so bad that Stage 8 has been seriously curtailed to just over 130 kilometres.
As for the Trucks - there are 14 Trucks stuck in the Dunes in Stage 7, and they are supposed to be the backup for all the cars and motorbikes!
This is a seriously MUST SEE programme.


Originally uploaded by Mara 1.
This photo was taken on one of my first trips to Kenya, where I feel in love with the place and all the wonderful animals. This is in the area of the huge Migration, so there are many predators. One sees so many different animals there and the birds are abundant.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


TRUTH is the only thing that cannot be improved upon.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Dakar Rally

Robby Gordon V.W. USA won the 4th Stage of the Dakar Rally from Rabat to Agadir in Morocco.
He beat the Stage 3 winner Colin McCrae Nissan G.B. There were a great deal of punctures on this Stage due to the gravel roads.
The Motorbike section was cancelled as fog grounded the security helicopters.
Colin McCrae came back to win the next stage from Agadie to Smara, with S.A. Giniel de Villers in 2nd.
Stage 5 has seen McCrae crash and he has been helicoptered out for treatment, but his injuries are not thought to be too serious.
The Motorbike section at the moment is lead by Meoni Ita on his KTM.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A Favourite of mine.

At the start of 2005 -

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted...
a time to love, and a time to hate.
a time of war and a time of peace.

Monday, January 03, 2005


This week the Paris/Dakar Road Rally has just started. They have left Spain and are now into North Africa. The trip stays mainly on the West Coast of Africa this time and only as far as Dakar. I so enjoy watching all the various nationalities (Japan, South Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Britain,Germany, Finland,and Qatar amongst them)competing in Trucks, Cars and Motorbikes. The best part of all to me. is to be able to see the countryside that they travel through. Some of it is absolutely stunning. One gets the real feel of the desert, and it is interesting to see the various people in their villages turning out to support the rally. My only complaint over the years is that there has never been enough T.V. coverage of it all. However it seems that this year they have heard my cries, and coverage has been extended.


The BBC start their new Big Cat Week tonight on BBC 1 at 7.p.m. and for the next 5 evenings. I was with them in Kenya at the start of their month of filming, but I had to leave shortly after their arrival, so I am really looking forward to catching up on all the news of the Big Cats.


There is no sense in hitting Bull's Eyes at the Wrong Target.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


The dictionary is the only place
where success comes before work.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Which One?

Which Generation is the better


I feel

Youth is Innocence and Naivety,
Maturity is Knowledge and Experience.


You are a child of the Universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be a peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.

By Max Ehrmann.