Saturday, April 30, 2005

10 things we didn't know this time last week

Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped, sliced and diced for your weekend convenience.

1. Richard Pryor can only conduct interviews via e-mail because of his multiple sclerosis.
2. Posh's first drink of the day is Diet Coke, according to the Beckhams' former nanny.
3. Michael Howard had purple sheets in his Chelsea flat when he met his future wife Sandra.
4. John Mills learnt his scripts using a Walkman.
5. Hugh Laurie's dad won an Olympic rowing gold medal in 1948.
6. The new double-decker Airbus has a Qwerty keyboard as part of its flight controls.
7. Australians host barbecues at polling stations on general election days.
8. Michael Winner's mother lost an estimated £8m through gambling.
9. An average Briton will spend £1,537,380 during his or her lifetime, a survey from insurer Prudential suggests.
10. In his third-year school report, Tim Henman was described by his housemaster as a "well-balanced, open and friendly individual". But the teacher added: "What I have not seen evidence of is the kind of 'killer instinct' I had expected..."

Thanks to: Sinclair So. UK.



Friday, April 29, 2005


On this day in 1922, the first Weightlifting Championships were held in Estonia.


History lost in dust of war-torn Iraq.
By Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly Independent archaeologist and journalist.

Carved cylinders were rolled across soft clay to form an identifiable seal. It is two years since looters ravaged one of the world's most important museums, in central Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's power had collapsed and the newly arrived US-led coalition forces were unable to prevent a crime against history.
Professional smugglers connected to the international antiquities mafia managed to break some of the sealed doors of the Baghdad Museum storage rooms. They looted priceless artefacts such as the museum's entire collection of cylindrical seals and large numbers of Assyrian ivory carvings.
More than 15,000 objects were taken. Many were smuggled out of Iraq and offered for sale.
To date, 3,000 have been recovered in Baghdad, some returned by ordinary citizens, others by the police. In addition, more than 1,600 objects have been seized in neighbouring countries, some 300 in Italy and more than 600 in the United States.
Most of the stolen items are unaccounted for, but some private collectors in the Middle East and Europe have admitted possessing objects bearing the initials IM (Iraq Museum inventory number).


The US space agency (Nasa) has announced that the launch of its space shuttle Discovery will now not take place until July.

The two-month delay occurred because managers decided the spaceship's fuel tank, which triggered the 2003 Columbia disaster, is not quite ready to fly. Nasa first set the launch date for 15 May, but it has been pushed back twice.

The shuttle fleet has been grounded since the 2003 accident, which killed seven astronauts.
Driving Nasa's decision to postpone the flight to July - the next possible launch period - were lingering concerns about accumulations of ice forming on the outside of the external tank. The fear is the ice could come away as the orbiter blasted off the launch pad and strike delicate parts of the ship's thermal shield.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Zimbabwe moves to bring in food.

Donors had warned that more food aid was needed. The Zimbabwean government has announced it will import 1.2m tons of the staple food, maize, over the next few months.
However, the state-run Grain Marketing Board head denied opposition charges that the country had run out of food. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) official Renson Gasela accused the government of failing to act while the country faced "a national catastrophe". President Robert Mugabe has accused the MDC of exaggerating food shortages and turned down offers of food aid.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean newspaper, The Standard, has reported that a national park was instructed to slaughter elephants in order to feed villagers at last week's Independence Day celebrations...................


On this date in 1789, most of the crew of the British ship Bounty mutinied, setting Captain William Bligh and 18 loyal sailors adrift in an open launch in the South Pacific. Three of the mutineers were later tried, convicted and hanged. Bligh went to trial for losing his ship, and was acquitted.


Fantasies inspire Chinese gamers.
By Louisa Lim BBC News, Beijing

Many Chinese use internet cafes because they cannot afford PCs.
Ancient warlords and dragons that breathe fireballs loom large in China's online fantasy games.
And the virtual world is sometimes taking precedence over the real one for the growing band of online gamers. International firms are eyeing China's computer gaming industry because it offers huge prospects for growth.
But one unusual story which recently hit the headlines here possibly points to a worrying trend.
Harsh reality It involved a 41-year-old man, Qiu Chengwei, who had become hooked on a popular online game called the Legend of Mir 3. Mr Qiu had spent many hours amassing points to earn the right to use a cyber weapon called a Dragon Sabre.
But he had made the mistake of lending his precious weapon to another player, who promptly sold it for almost 900 real world US dollars. Mr Qiu was so incensed he went to the police, but was told that the law doesn't protect virtual property. He then went to the house of the man who sold his cyber weapon and stabbed him in the chest, killing him.
Mr Qiu has pleaded guilty to intentional injury but says he never meant to kill. This cautionary tale shows just how seriously people are taking online games in China.


Utah Capitol building gets lift.

The Capitol could be destroyed by a major earthquake.The building which houses the US state of Utah's government is being lifted so that a cushion can be installed to absorb the shock of an earthquake. The whole of Salt Lake City's Capitol will rise by a fraction of an inch for the installation, which is expected to take more than a year. Scientists say the valley where the city is located is due for an earthquake of around magnitude seven.
The building is currently closed as it undergoes a $212m (£111m) restoration. The state governor and legislature are expected to return to the building in 2008. Workers at the site are preparing to strip out the building's old foundations and install 280 rubber and steel mounts, according to AP news agency. This will allow it to sway as it absorbs the shock of a tremor. Experts say an earthquake could potentially destroy the 90-year-old structure if the work is not done.
The building was completed in 1915 with almost no reinforcing steel, and engineers say it requires more radical structural changes than those undergone by such buildings as San Francisco City Hall.
There are approximately 700 earthquakes in Utah each year, though the vast majority go unnoticed. Major earthquakes - of magnitude 6.5 to 7.5 - occur around once every 1,300 years in the Salt Lake City area.



Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Cash received from the Auction of George Michael's
Car was over £10,500, and went to a Cancer Charity.


Airbus A380 completes test flight.

The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, has landed safely, completing its maiden flight. The long-awaited test lasted almost four hours, with the A380 circling the Bay of Biscay before returning to base.
The A380 took off from its production site in Toulouse with a crew of six and about 20 tonnes of test equipment. Thousands of aeroplane enthusiasts clapped and cheered as the twin-decked, four-engine "superjumbo" made a flypast before landing.
Now this plane is seriously HUGE.


Ugandans plant trees in potholes.

The state of some roads in Uganda's capital, Kampala, is so bad that protesters have planted banana trees in the middle of potholes. One campaigner says he saw a fish caught in one of the bigger potholes that had filled with water.
Now a politician is leading a campaign to get the roads repaired and says this is becoming a major issue for his party ahead of elections next year. Conservative Party leader Ken Lukyamuzi says corruption is to blame. He says money earmarked for the roads is not being spent, and when it is, the tarmac is too thin and disintegrates when it rains.
"When you hear sums of money related to what is going to be done, you just laugh," says Mr Lukyamuzi, whose party is one of the smaller players in Ugandan politics.
"These roads are done using the taxpayers' money," he says as he manoeuvres his car among the potholes. "People pay the taxes."
Mr Lukyamuzi says that quite aside from the number of accidents the potholes cause, there is a good economic reason to fix them. "You cannot do anything constructive in terms of trade," he says. "A lot of food which feeds the people in Kampala comes from very long distances. So, you have to address the roads."
He also laments the fact that the only way around them is to drive on the wrong side of the road. "I cannot, for example, abide by the rules of driving in Uganda, which is moving on the left side - I have to move onto the other side as if I was driving when I'm in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or France, or Rwanda. Can you imagine that? It is absurd."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005




Appeal to save Hubble telescope - By Pallab Ghosh - BBC News science correspondent.

The man in charge of the Hubble space telescope's science missions has appealed to Nasa's new administrator to find the money for one last servicing mission to the observatory.
Dr Stephen Beckwith told BBC News that the cost of such a mission would amount to "loose change" for the US space agency and would lead to many important scientific discoveries.
This week marks Hubble's 15th year in space. Already, its stunning pictures have transformed our understanding of the cosmos.
Among its many considerable achievements, the telescope has enabled us to work out the age of the Universe and confirm the existence of black holes.
But this remarkable piece of orbiting hardware needs regular maintenance and unless it is serviced soon, it will probably stop working in about three years' time.
Currently, Nasa is not prepared to risk a human shuttle flight to do this upgrade work and is reserving funds sufficient only to bring the telescope down safely at the end of its mission - whenever that comes.
But Dr Beckwith, the director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which operates Hubble, believes that is a poor decision.
"Hubble's budget represents less than one-and-a-half percent of what Nasa spends yearly on space - I think it's loose change.
"I think the costs of keeping Hubble alive should not be a major factor for the agency given the high profile that Hubble has in both science and good publicity.
"Hubble is the best mission in Nasa's fleet right now. It's producing beautiful science that the public loves and it makes us all look just great."


Australia to cull outback camels.

Farmers say the camels put too much strain on water holes.
Thousands of wild camels roaming the Australian outback are to be hunted and shot by marksmen in helicopters in an effort to protect farmland. Australian officials say the country's camel population has grown to about 700,000 in recent years.
Camels were introduced to Australia in the 19th Century as desert transport animals, but have grown in number because they have no local predators. Animal rights campaigners say aerial culling is cruel and unnecessary.
Camels enjoy vast open spaces and plenty of grazing land within Australia's vast outback.
Their numbers are growing by an estimated 11% per year, and population size has been doubling about once every eight years, officials say.

Once again Man interferes with Nature, by bringing camels to Australia, and now they dont want them, so are now deciding just to kill them off. Australia is a huge country. If they are serious,why not try to do something constructive to limit the camel's growth, instead of just trying to kill them from a plane.

Anyone Out there?

Am I really all alone? Or are there others like me out there?

Monday, April 25, 2005



Undercover Reporter.

"News is what someone does not want you to print, the rest is just advertising"
Tom de Castella on the risks of being an undercover reporter in Zimbabwe.

At Linquenda House, Harare's gloomy immigration department, the official inspecting my visa extension form asks me what I do. "I'm a wine seller," I lie. "You're not a news seller?" he shoots back, his eyes watching me mischievously. "What's that?" I say, trying to be innocent, but taken aback by his apparent mind-reading. "A journalist," he answers. "Oh, no, I'm not one of them" I say, trying to laugh. He chuckles and explains that "some of your fellow countrymen are attempting to come in and make trouble," before stamping my passport. That was in 2002, but on subsequent trips I have been a birdwatcher, architect and cricket fan. Such is life for the "tourist" in Zimbabwe, where lying to strangers and suspicion of others becomes second nature. You know that you could be jailed for up to two years, but you are also aware that unaccredited journalists caught by the authorities are usually deported.




10 things we didn't know this time last week.

1. Tony Blair doesn't like broccoli.
2. Cabinet ministers are offered the dual-fuel (petrol and electric) Toyota Prius as an option when choosing a ministerial car.
3. Before chemicals were introduced, the Vatican used to add wet straw when burning ballot papers during a Conclave to turn the smoke black.
4. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams bought the first two Apple computers ever sold in Europe; and Stephen Fry bought the third.
5. Cyclist Lance Armstrong's heart is almost a third larger than the average man's.
6. Unpopped popcorn kernels - ubiquitous at the bottom of any popcorn serving - are the result of leaky kernels which prevent the build up of moisture pressure, researchers at Purdue University found.
7. NASA's new boss, Michael Griffin, has seven university degrees a PhD, and five masters degrees.
8. Boys who take risks don't impress girls, according to the academic journal Evolution and Human Behavior [see Internet links on the right].
9. John Lennon and Yoko Ono slept on a bed supported by two church pews, according to their former cleaning lady's memoirs.
10 Downing Street is for sale... ok, that's 10 Downing Street in Chippenham, Wiltshire.
Thanks to Candace, New Jersey, US and Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
Things have deteriorating noticeably in Zimbabwe in the three weeks since the ruling party declared they had won the elections. Prices have shot up, basic foodstuffs are becoming harder and harder to find and the fuel supply is sporadic. Water from taps has become a luxury and the state owned television this week gave us a long story to explain that as winter approaches electricity cuts are going to be regular occurrences.This week the MDC finally gave up their prolonged diplomatic game and openly declared that the South Africans were not honest brokers in mediating in the Zimbabwean crisis. They said that it was now apparent that the South African stance of "Quiet Diplomacy" was in a reality just a"package of lies and pretence." The statement of this sad fact and an end to the nonsensical diplomatic pretence, comes as a relief to Zimbabweans.We had watched with shock and disgust the line taken by the SABC TV news presenter reporting from Zimbabwe during the election period and few people believed they had remained impartial.Zimbabweans feel so utterly betrayed by our African neighbours and at least now the talk has become straight forward and to the point. By all accounts there are probably less than 20 or 30 000 white people left inZimbabwe and it is matter of continental shame that our regional neighbours cannot and will not see the suffering of 11 million ordinary people but choose to keep on and on hiding behind the now 25 year old"colonialist" scapegoat.It is very hard to be optimistic about anything at the moment but there is a joke doing the rounds which is particularly appropriate as we hurtle backwards into the dark ages. Using a stick, an old shoe lace and a ben tpaper clip a hungry man crafts a crude fishing rod and goes down to try his luck at the river. Against all the odds he manages to catch a small fish and he hurries home to his wife with the first meat they've seen for weeks. He asks his wife to grill the fish immediately but she says she can't because they are having an extended power cut. Then he suggests that she uses the paraffin stove instead and poaches the fish but she can't do that either because there is no paraffin in the country for the stove. The man goes off to collect firewood and says now they can fry the fish but that is also impossible because there is neither margarine nor cooking oil in the country. In despair, the hungry man suggests they simply boil the fish but that too is impossible as there is no water in the taps. Resigned to just smoking the fish on an open fire, the hungry man bends to light the sticks but cannot even do that as the country even ran out of matches this week. In disgust he gets up, grabs the fish and takes it back to the river. The fish slides into the water and turns back to wave a fin at the hungry man and says: "Well, you voted for them."Until next week, with love, cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle 23 April 2005 My books on the Zimbabwean crisis,"African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available ; ;; in Australia and New Zealand: ; Africa:



Pop Idol Fever.

Saudi palaver over pop idol fever. Hisham Abdel Rahman has become a familiar face in the Arab World.The Saudi star of a reality TV show caused such commotion among fans in a Riyadh mall he was reportedly arrested for sparking "an indecent scene".
Hisham Abdel Rahman, 24, winner of this year's Star Academy, was mobbed by male and female fans wanting to kiss him and shake his hand in Kingdom Tower Mall.
Religious police patrolling the area deemed the scene "improper" and tried to break up the crowd. Mr Rahman was reportedly held after refusing to leave the shopping centre.
He was forcibly escorted out and taken to the offices of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice for interviewing, according to the Arab News.
He was freed and flown back to his home town of Jeddah after an intervention from the office of the Riyadh governor

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Eduardo Paolozzi

Pop artist Paolozzi dies aged 81

Sir Eduardo died in a London hospital. Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, one of the most influential British artists of the 20th Century, has died aged 81. He had been ill for several years and died on Friday morning in a London hospital, his family said.
Born to Italian parents in Leith, near Edinburgh, in 1924, the artist and sculptor is regarded as the founder of the British pop art movement.
His most famous works include a series of mosaics on the walls of Tottenham Court Road Tube station in London. Best known for mechanical sculptures, his other works include a statue of Sir Isaac Newton in the piazza of the British Library.


George's car for sale on internet.

Michael has sung on TV shows, but not in concert, since 1999.
Singer George Michael is selling one of his cars on an internet auction site - to raise money for charity.
The black Range Rover - which comes with a "massive" stereo system and registration number J5 STUD - has been put up for sale on eBay. The pop star paid £50,000 for the top-of-the-range model in 1991.
It has recently been kept at his father's stud farm in Cyprus, hence the registration. The ad on eBay describes the sale as a "unique opportunity". The advert adds: "It is without question a one-off, as this gentleman's vehicles never see the private ad columns and would normally be handed down to family or friends."
A spokesman for the singer said: "George has decided to sell the car to raise money for his favourite charities."


More than 50 billion e-mails are despatched every day worldwide; in 2001 the traffic was less than 12 billion.
Of these 88% are junk mail including around 1% which are virus-infected.
The average number of e-mail messages received per person per day is 32. This is rising by 84% each year.
There are 440 million electronic mailboxes including 170 million corporate ones in use, growing by 32% per year.
A total of 1,035 million mobile phone text messages are despatched each month in Great Britain.
The average amount of texts per month is 37 per user, compared to 21 in 2001.
A million children aged under 10 in the U.K. - one in three - now have their own text phones.
The average age at which a child gets his or her first mobile phone in the U.K. is eight.
82% of children and young people from 5 to 24 - a total of 12.6 million - own a mobile phone; this is predicted to rise to 87% by 2007.

Txts n emails mk ppl stupid coz they R worse than smking pot & lead 2 a st8 of informania -
writes Michael Horsell of the Times Newspaper.

Friday, April 22, 2005




The puzzling popularity of Su Doku
By Paula Dear BBC News

It's the latest craze in games but there isn't a computer graphic in sight.
Su Doku began its gentle attack on the nation last year, and versions can now be found in four national newspapers. Addicts are as obsessed as 1980s teenagers fixated on the Rubik's cube.
So what's the big deal about these little rows of boxes on a page?
An unscientific poll of this office brought two types of reaction to the hybrid Japanese name Su Doku. While some bemused colleagues had never heard of it, others rather uncomfortably lined up to confess their addiction to the game. For those who don't know, it's a puzzle found in newspapers, books and online. A simple-looking grid of nine rows by nine, split into nine boxes, each containing nine squares, it looks like just another numbers game. But, say Su Doku experts, the difference is it can be played using logic alone, so maths phobics read on. If I don't complete a puzzle before noon I get suicidally depressed for the rest of the day -Bernard Stay, 71
To be pure Su Doku each of the unique puzzles - which come in varying levels of difficulty - must have only one solution. The aim? To fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every box contains the digits one to nine. This simple game has spawned a complex industry, according to the man who brought Su Doku to the UK via the Times newspaper. Plans are afoot to add the game to mobile phones, and a board game and television show could soon leap on the bandwagon.The internet is awash with chat about Su Doku and programers are tapping away to find the best system for solving the puzzles.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


THE grandson of Lord Delamere, one of the original white settlers in Kenya, has been arrested on suspicion of shooting dead an undercover game ranger investigating the illegal trade in bushmeat. Tom Gilbert Patrick Cholmondeley, who owns a 100,000 hectare cattle ranch in the Rift Valley, is accused of using a Luger pistol to kill a Kenya Wildlife Service warden. “One guard was shot dead,” police said. “We recovered a Luger pistol and several bullet shells next to the body of the deceased.”


There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast." - Unknown
"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have neverforgotten this." - Anonymous"
Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." - Jeff Valdez
"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats." - English proverb
"As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat." - Ellen Perry Berkeley
"One cat just leads to another." - Ernest Hemingway
"Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later." - Mary Bly
"Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many
ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia." - Joseph Wood Krutch
"People that hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life." - Faith Resnick
"There are many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats." - Anonymous
"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." - Hippolyte Taine
"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." Albert Schweitzer
"The cat has too much spirit to have no heart." - Ernest Menaul
"Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God." - Unknown
"Time spent with cats is never wasted." - Colette
"Some people say that cats are sneaky, evil, and cruel. True, and they have many other fine qualities as well." - Missy Dizick
"You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats. - Colonial American proverb
"Cats seem to know it never does any harm to ask for what you want." - Joseph Wood Krutch





Wednesday, April 20, 2005


The flip side of Diouf ~ By Osasu Obayiuwana

After spitting at Celtic fan Dominic Schiavone and Portsmouth captain Arjan De Zeeuw, there are few people brave enough to describe El Hadji Diouf as a sterling ambassador for football.
The former African Footballer of the Year, sanctioned by Senegal manager Guy Stephan for partying before the team travelled to Liberia for a World Cup qualifier, divides opinion polls like no other player in his home nation.
"As a player he has brought a lot to the national team but he has not been able to handle the success and money that has come with it," said Senegalese journalist Tidiane Sy.
"Journalists have talked to psychologists, to understand why he is such a difficult player."
My initial encounter with him in South Africa, where I handed the striker his 2002 BBC African Footballer of the Year title, did little to change this perception.




I can't believe a man, carrying a child, would approach an elephant also with its child, and not expect to hear and feel the elephant' s anger. It seems that this happened in Uganda and the man is now dead.
No doubt they will be after the elephant, after all it has no right to protect its infant and deserves to be shot for killing a human...........Makes me see red !!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Woman 'admits causing Paris fire'.

Police believe the fire was started by accident. A woman detained after last week's fire in a Paris hotel which killed 24 people has admitted that she may have started the blaze by accident, police say. According to the Paris prosecutor's office, the fire started when she threw a pile of clothes on top of candles lit in the breakfast room after a row.
The 31-year-old woman, who has not been named, was detained on Monday. Police identified her as the girlfriend of one of the hotel's night watchmen, who was injured on the night.
"After a violent dispute... she finally left the hotel, throwing several piles of clothes on the floor in a fit of rage, without paying attention to the candles," the prosecutor's office said in a statement. Two more people died in hospital on Tuesday from injuries sustained in the fire, bringing the death toll up to 24. The fire is believed to have been the deadliest in Paris in 32 years. More than 50 people were injured, 11 seriously.
Half of the dead were the children of families in need, who were temporarily housed at the hotel by the city's social services department.


German scientist ~ Andreas Marggrah ~ on this
day, discovered the sugar in sugar beet in 1747.




Why world's taps are running dry.

By Alex Kirby BBC News Online environment correspondent.

If you want to induce mental meltdown, the statistics of the worsening global water crisis are a surefire winner.Water-borne diseases already kill one child every eight seconds Two-fifths of the world's people already face serious shortages, and water-borne diseases fill half its hospital beds. People in rich countries use 10 times more water than those in poor ones. The present is dire: the future looks so grim it must be entirely unmanageable. Cut it how you will, the picture that emerges from today's data and tomorrow's forecasts is so complex and appalling it can leave you feeling powerless. The world cannot increase its supply of fresh water: all it can do is change the way it uses it. Its population is going to go on increasing for some time before there is any prospect it will stabilise. And water-borne diseases already kill one child every eight seconds, as day follows day.
Water is not running out: it is simply that there are steadily more of us to share it. Climate change will also have an effect on water - just what effect, though, nobody can really say. Some regions will become drier, some wetter. Deserts may well spread and rivers shrink, but floods will also become more frequent. Most of the world's water is already inaccessible, or comes in the form of storms and hurricanes to the wrong places at the wrong times. But there is certainly room for better management of water in agriculture - which currently takes ups 70% of the water we use.
Water shortage need not mean warDrip irrigation, for example, minimises waste, as does low-pressure sprinklers and even simple earth walls to trap rainfall instead of letting it drain away too fast to be used. Industry will usually make savings and cut costs wherever it can, and if it can spend less on water it will. And us? One way to make consumers more responsible about water is to charge us for consuming it.
It works - up to a point. If water is expensive, those who can will economise on its use. But not everyone can. Most freshwater is beyond reachPrivatising the water supply in South Africa means many people now receive 6,000 litres a month free, then pay for whatever they use beyond that. A monthly 6,000 litres means 50 litres a day for a family of four.
Fifty litres is the recommended basic domestic water requirement, and by no means every South African family has only four members. That is one reason why the anti-privatisation movement has been so strong in South Africa.
There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for the harsh business of bringing water demand into line with supply. Nor is there an off-the-peg way of engineering our way out of the crisis. Desalination may play a part, but it is energy-hungry and leaves a brine mountain for disposal. Dams will impound more water, but can easily bring more problems in their train.
One of the disappointments of the World Water Forum in Japan in March 2002 was its focus on mega-engineering solutions like dams and pipelines, rather than using natural systems like forests and wetlands to conserve water. There is some good news. Clean water and sanitation are getting to more and more people. But you may not have noticed, because the number of people benefiting was outstripped by the growth in human numbers.
Because the world's water suppy is finite, most of life's other necessities are finite as well. In China it takes 1,000 tonnes of water to grow one tonne of wheat. If we do not learn to live within our aqueous means, we shall go hungry as well as thirsty. A world where consumption was a means to survival, not an economic end in itself, would have enough water to go round. And polluted, inadequate water might kill its children a little more slowly.

Monday, April 18, 2005




'Historic' singles chart welcomed.

Damon Albarn's Gorillaz entered the revamped chart at 22. The Official UK Charts Company says it is "pleased" with the first singles chart to include legal downloads.But a spokesman said there would be "a certain amount of fluidity" in chart rules in the weeks and months ahead.
The inclusion of digital sales has almost doubled the singles market, with 383,000 downloads sold last week compared with 393,000 physical singles.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has welcomed the chart as "an historic day for the UK music industry". "The addition of downloads to the singles chart doubles the market at a stroke," said BPI chairman Peter Jamieson. "By bringing new people back into the singles market, the addition of downloads by definition makes it more representative."
However, the Association of Independent Music (AIM) said independent labels and artists have suffered under the new system.



Sunday, April 17, 2005


Radcliffe races to London victory.

Paula Radcliffe destroyed her rivals to win her third London Marathon title in two hours, 17 minutes and 42 seconds. The world record holder struck out on her own after six miles and but for an unscheduled toilet stop in the 22nd mile maintained a relentless pace. Radcliffe posted the third fastest women's run with Romania's Constantina Dita over five minutes back in second. Kenyans Susan Chepkemei, who finished third, and Margaret Okayo paid for trying to stay with Radcliffe early on. The only moment of drama for the Briton came late on when she stopped by the road-side and squatted down for about 10 seconds before resuming the race. Chepkemei, who ran Radcliffe so close in New York last November, finished over six minutes behind in 2:24:00. Last year's winner Okayo was fourth in 2:25:22 while Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan posted a personal best of 2:29:01 in finishing eighth. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
London Marathon - Women's result:

1. Paula Radcliffe, Britain, 2 hours, 17 minutes 42 seconds.2. Constantina Tomescu-Dita, Romania, 2:22:50. 3. Susan Chepkemei, Kenya, 2:24:00. 4. Margaret Okaya, Kenya, 2:25:22. 5. Lyudmila Petrova, Russia, 2:26:29. 6. Benita Johnson, Australia, 2:26:32. 7. Joyce Chepchumba, Kenya, 2:27:01. 8. Sonia O'Sullivan, Ireland, 2:29:01. 9. Mulu Seboka, Ethiopia, 2:30:54. 10. Mara Yamauchi, Britain, 2:31:52.


Lel springs London Marathon shock.

Kenya's Martin Lel beat a high-quality field to win the 25th London Marathon.
Lel clocked two hours seven minutes 26 seconds to finish ahead of world champion Jaouard Gharib of Morocco and South Africa's Hendrik Ramaala.
Britain's Jon Brown produced an excellent performance in sixth, setting a personal best of 2.09.31 just behind Olympic champion Stefano Baldini.
Pre-race favourite Paul Tergat was a disappointing eighth, while 2004 winner Evans Rutto could only manage 10th.

Tergat and Rutto were part of a large leading group for much of the first half of the race.
Rutto was the first to drop off that group and minutes later, Lel put in a dramatic burst of pace.
His rivals had no reponse and the 26-year-old moved comfortably clear to claim victory by 23 seconds. It was Lel's first major title since he won in New York two years ago.

London Marathon - Men's result:1. Martin Lel, Kenya, 2 hours, 7 minutes, 26 seconds.2. Jaouad Gharib, Morocco, 2:07:49.3. Hendrick Ramaala, South Africa, 2:08:32.4. Abdelkader El Mouaziz, Morocco, 2:09:03.5. Stefano Baldini, Italy, 2:09:25.6. Jon Brown, Britain, 2:09:31.7. Toshinari Suwa, Japan, 2:10:23.8. Paul Tergat, Kenya, 2:11:38.9. Sammy Korir, Kenya, 2:12:36.10. Evans Rutto, Kenya, 2:12:49.




Record number for London Marathon.
A record number of runners are due to take part in Sunday's London Marathon. Just over 36,000 people have officially registered to run, delighting race director David Bedford. He said: "This figure represents a 10% increase on any previous record and shows how keen people are to join us in celebrating our anniversary race." Briton Paula Radcliffe and Kenya's Paul Tergat are the favourites to lift the women's and men's titles in the 25th running of the race. Radcliffe, 31, is being tipped to set a new world record, eclipsing the mark of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds she set over the course in 2003. Organisers have replaced the notorious Tower of London cobbles with a fast, flat stretch along the Highway which could slash 45 seconds off the elite field's times. The Isle of Dogs loop will also be run anti-clockwise. But Radcliffe faces stiff competition from defending champion Margaret Okayo and her Kenyan compatriot Susan Chepkemei, who finished second to the Briton in New York last November. Tergat, who holds the men's world best time of 2:04.55, set in Berlin in 2003, is likely to be pushed hard by holder Evans Rutto and Olympic gold medallist Stefano Baldini from Italy. In the wheelchair race, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson bids to win her seventh London.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


New shuttle tank ready for lift-off ~ By Irene Mona Klotz at the Kennedy Space Center.

Filling and testing the huge external tank was a major step for Nasa. Set against the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, shuttle Discovery emerged on Thursday from a cocoon of protective metal gantries to undergo a final test, stemming from the 2003 Columbia accident. The object of inquiry was the same item that failed on Columbia: the massive, bullet-shaped fuel tank.
Newly remodelled since the fatal accident, the US space agency (Nasa) is painfully aware that the tank will never again be looked upon as the passive backbone of the shuttle system, which also includes the winged orbiter and a pair of solid rocket boosters.
The accident showed that the tank's foam insulation, necessary to keep the shuttle's exotic rocket propellants as cold as minus 217 Celsius (-423 Fahrenheit), was as great a hazard as the explosive solid rocket boosters, which claimed the shuttle Challenger and killed seven astronauts 20 years ago.



Cathy's latest letter

Dear Family and Friends,
On lamp posts, telephone poles, street signs, walls and trees in Marondera town, the tattered remnants of Zimbabwe's election have not been cleared away a fortnight after the event. Ninety nine percent of the posters advertise the ruling party and say: "We are proud to be Zimbabweans on our land" but to the hundreds of unemployed young men who sit on walls and pavements around the town, the words offer no comfort. For two days this week large parts of Marondera town have had no water or just an explosive air lock followed by a rusty trickle and it has become common to see women walking with 20 litre plastic drums on their heads going to find water so that they can cook food, wash clothes and keep their children clean. I am sure that these women draw little comfort from the incessant propaganda about "our land". Urban women, living in towns like Marondera with a population of almost a million people, suddenly find themselves having to revert to practices common to their mothers and grandmothers who lived in remote rural areas of the country. It is a sad indictment of a country which celebrates 25 years of independence this week. A fortnight after the election there is no maize meal, sugar, salt or eggs in Marondera's shops so there can't be many mums and housewives getting solace from the posters about "our land." For a brief moment there was a little buzz of interest this week at the opening of parliament. That excitement didn't last long though because the House opened and even though some of the Zanu PF MP's had lost their constituencies in the election, they regained their places when they were appointed by the President using his 30 reserved parliamentary seats. The House opened, the MP's were sworn in and then, with one swift "The Ayes have it", Parliament was adjourned to the 28th of June - a long two months away. President Mugabe announced his new Cabinet this week and that too has almost no changes, offers no inspiration and promises yet more of the same. Even the Minister of Agriculture who hasn't been able to secure food for the people for the last four years is still warming the same seat in Zimbabwe's sixth parliament. Perhaps the only thing that really caused a stir this week was the news that six new fighter jets have arrived in the country - in defence of "our land" no doubt. Until next time, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle16th April 2005 http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available ; ; ;in Australia and New Zealand: ; Africa:

Friday, April 15, 2005


Inter Milan have been fined £132,000 by Uefa and must play their next four European games behind closed doors after crowd trouble against AC Milan. Inter fans threw missiles on to the San Siro pitch, and Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg tie was stopped with AC Milan leading 1-0.

AC have been awarded a 5-0 aggregate win and go through to the semi-finals where they will meet PSV Eindhoven. Two games will be added to the ban if Inter reoffend in the next three years. Inter can appeal against the decision and they have three days to do so


Slot 2 brought the expedition to a climactic end with the capture of this year's sixth cheetah. After Ursula's birthday cheetah last week, expectations were high for me to produce something exciting for the box-trap team in recognition of my 31 years. I thought the porcupine release from the penultimate trap would be enough to satisfy this demand, so I was more than a little surprised when we came across our big cat friend in the last trap. Josef picked up leopard spoor just by the trap, so we had a moment's hesitation establishing the cat's identity (!) ... but he is now known as cheetah W021, a 40kg male, captured once before in May 2004, and thought to be the son of the collared cheetah W014 who we follow on the telemetry. Once we had succeeded persuading him to move to his holding cage, we placed a couple more traps around his tree on the off chance that he formed part of a coalition. With no further captures by Friday morning, we proceeded with the darting, anaesthetising and sampling procedures. It was discovered that he had quite a large wound where he had been caught in a snare, though this was healing well and his weight was normal for his age. A real show-biz cheetah, he was more than happy to pose for the group upon recovery before shooting off in to the bush.With the weather remaining fine in the evening, we ended the afternoon activities a little early to rendez-vous up at telemetry point no. 2 from where we could get a great view of the surrounding plains and a last Namibian sunset. The team members having just departed, this brings the expedition for spring2005 to a close, so many thanks to everybody for contributing to making it a success. Thanks to the cheetahs too. I'm looking forward to helping Harald and Birgit with the establishment of their new study-site for autumn of this year. David Moore




Thousands of MG Rover jobs to go.

Thousands of workers will now lose their jobs. About 5,000 MG Rover workers are to lose their jobs, administrators for the stricken company have said. The news came after last-ditch rescue talks with a Chinese firm collapsed.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said £150m was being made available to help those being made redundant at MG Rover and the companies that supply it. The administrators said about 1,000 staff would be kept on at Longbridge to complete work on unfinished cars but more redundancies could follow.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Diana paparazzi trio face retrial.
The pictures of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed were never published.Three paparazzi who took pictures of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed on the night of their fatal car crash will be retried for breaching privacy laws. France's top appeals court has ordered a partial review of the case of photographers Jacques Langevin, Christian Martinez and Eric Chassery.
They were originally acquitted of breaking privacy laws in a November 2003 ruling by a lower court.They were also cleared in a later appeal in September last year. The photographers took pictures of the couple as they left the Ritz Hotel in Paris where they were staying and after the crash that killed them in a tunnel near the river Seine as they lay in their Mercedes.
In September last year, the Paris appeals court found that a crashed vehicle on a public highway was not in a private area. But on Wednesday, the Cour de Cassation asked the Paris appeals court to review the part of its decision related to the couple's car, saying it was a mistake not to consider the Mercedes a private space.
That decision only concerned three photos of the crash taken in the car. The lower courts had concluded that the photos of Diana and Dodi leaving the Ritz did not constitute invasion of privacy because the couple knew they would be photographed. The case will now be sent back to the Paris appeals court, where a new panel of judges will hear arguments from both sides.
The three men face up to a year in jail if they are found guilty of breaking privacy laws.
The main investigation on the causes of the accident was closed in 2002, putting an end to formal manslaughter inquiries brought against nine photographers and a press motorcyclist.




Ivorian poll to be 'open to all.'

South Africa's President Mbeki has been mediating in the crisis.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has urged Ivory Coast's leader to ensure the presidential election this year is open to all. Mr Mbeki's statement which was read out on television appeared to call for main opposition leader Alassane Ouattara to be allowed to run in the October poll.
Rebels in control of the north of the country have made approval of Mr Ouattara's candidature a key demand. Mr Mbeki was asked by the African Union to mediate between the two sides.
Although a peace deal was agreed between Ivorian government forces and rebels at the talks in Pretoria last week, the issue of presidential eligibility was not resolved. Mr Ouattara was stopped from running for president in 2000 on the grounds that his parents were not both Ivorian.
This is a victory for us and especially a victory for the people of the Ivory Coast. The question of who can run for the presidency is seen as key to peace being achieved. Desire Tagro quoted Mr Mbeki's letter as saying that the Ivorian constitutional council - made up of judges - should confirm the eligibility of candidates of political parties that signed the French-brokered peace deal in 2003. That would include Mr Ouattara's RDR party.
Mr Mbeki has reportedly called on President Laurent Gbagbo to make the ruling law.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005




Killer jailed over poison plot

Kamel Bourgass was jailed for life in June 2004. An al-Qaeda suspect who stabbed to death a policeman has been jailed for 17 years for plotting to spread ricin and other poisons on the UK's streets. Kamel Bourgass, 31, is already serving a life term after being convicted of murdering Detective Constable Stephen Oake during a 2003 raid in Manchester. Four other men were cleared last week of taking part in a conspiracy. A second trial has been abandoned. Anti-terror chief Peter Clarke said a "real and deadly threat" was averted.
The impact on the public, if he had succeeded in what he wanted to do, is incalculable said Peter Clarke Deputy Assistant Commissioner. The BBC's Home Editor Mark Easton says the authorities in Britain believe there was a plan to co-ordinate chemical and biological attacks across Europe. In London targets were to include the underground.
And in Paris the authorities suspect the Metro and Eiffel Tower could have been attacked.
In a statement, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Clarke said: "The impact on the public, if he [Bourgass] had succeeded in what he wanted to do, is incalculable." And, paying tribute to DC Oake, he went on: "He died protecting the public from a vicious terrorist. "It would be hard to underestimate the fear and disruption this plot could have caused across the country."
Cyanide poison. Anti-terrorist squad officers found a suspected chemical weapons laboratory when they raided a flat in Wood Green, north London, in January 2003. They discovered castor oil beans - the raw material for ricin - along with equipment needed to produce it and recipes for ricin, cyanide, botulinum and other poisons, along with instructions for explosives. After the raid police launched a nationwide search to find Bourgass, who fled from London to Manchester, where he was captured on 14 January 2003.
It was there, during a desperate bid to get away, that he stabbed DC Oake to death with a kitchen knife and injured four other officers. In June 2004 Bourgass was jailed for life for DC Oake's murder and told he must serve at least 20 years behind bars. Reporting restrictions covering the murder conviction were lifted on Wednesday.
Police believe the failed asylum-seeker, who has claimed to be Algerian, was an al-Qaeda operative and say he had discussed various ways of spreading nicotine poison, including smearing it on car door handles in the Holloway Road area of north London. Another man, Mohammed Meguerba, who jumped bail and fled Britain, is awaiting trial in Algeria.
On 8 April, a jury at the Old Bailey cleared Mouloud Sihali, David Khalef, Sidali Feddag and Mustapha Taleb of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.
Bourgass was convicted of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by the use of poisons and/or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury.


Wednesday 30th March
On Sunday afternoon we had a session at camp where everybody had a chance to practise some of the techniques used in last week's cheetah capture, including darting our model cheetah. He still has a very broad grin despite being punctured by dart holes. Then Monday was a day off so we all drove into Windhoek and most continued on to the Düsternbrook guest farm to experience their cheetah and leopard enclosures before meeting up at Joe's Beer House in the evening. A very fun and entertaining day. Yesterday was action-packed for the box trap team: Though no cheetahs, they did have to release a baboon and her baby, a warthog and a porcupine who took some encouragement to vacate the trap. The telemetry team was also busy, getting signals from cheetah no. 6 somewhere close to the farm as well as 15 and 16 to the north of the farm, and the leopard with her two cubs. Much to the frustration of the afternoon follow-up team, they were unable to gain any further signals in the afternoon. Though the game count team found only a low density of game, they got close to the giraffes and found warthogs wallowing by the central borehole. Now I'm up at the farm preparing the roof-tents for tonight's planned sleep-out: The nights are clear at the moment, so we're going to leave camp tonight to find an open spot in the bush. I've just heard the spoors team coming in over the radio. They've found cheetah spoor 0.4 km into their route so the telemetry team is on their way to follow it up.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005




Scientists have worked out how the deadliest malaria parasite is able to "hide" from the body's immune system. The US-led international team said Plasmodium falciparum constantly changes the appearance of a protein it deposits on infected cells. This meant the human immune system did not have enough time to begin making antibodies against the protein before the parasite changed its appearance. The discovery could lead to new avenues for drug research.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Royal newlyweds at church service.

The newlyweds were warmly welcomed at the church on Sunday. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have marked the first day of their Scottish honeymoon by attending church in Aberdeenshire. The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, as they are known in Scotland, went to the 11 am service at Crathie Parish Church.
Camilla, wearing a fuchsia hat and coat, and the prince, in traditional Highland dress, were greeted by applause from about 100 well wishers. The couple married in a civil ceremony at Windsor's Guildhall on Saturday. The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, as they are known in Scotland, are staying at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate.




Sunday 27th March.
By Wednesday afternoon we were able to begin with the routine activities, one team getting to grips with the data input while the other went out on the game count. The follow-up team had their introduction to telemetry (and came across a male cheetah spoor). One day before the full moon and a reasonably clear night, we walked along the dried-up river bed and up on to the damn wall in the evening to appreciate the night sounds and glowing animal eyes.Thursday was quiet with a dramatic storm, making telemetry impossible, but Friday and Saturday brought new signs of considerable cheetah activity: signals were received from cheetah no. 2 as well as nos. 15 and 16, the brother coalition. Just to the east of the farm, perhaps they are responsible for spoors located next to the two northern box traps. Spoors were also discovered along the eastern fence line, presumably from uncollared animals. Waterhole observations have brought a close encounter with a warthog family and yesterday we were able to observe bat-eared foxes. Though usually shy, this group seemed unperturbed by our presence. Now at the end of the rainy season there are lots of little waterholes amongst the greenery, many filled with turtles. Meanwhile everyone has settled into the rhythm of life at base camp. The night time animal invasion much talked about over breakfast on Friday turned out to be donkeys. The horses have also chosen the camp as a grazing ground once we leave the camp fire at night.


No one is perfect,
that's why pencils have Erasers !


Tuesday 22nd March.
A lot has happened since the new team's arrival at base camp yesterday. By mid-afternoon we were out in the field and I was accompanying one of the offroad training groups as we headed out towards the riverbed training ground. Harald came over the radio with news of a cheetah sighting by his box trap team as they drove down the eastern fence line. They had first come across a springbok kill by the roadside before a cheetah popped out frombehind a small tree about 30 metres in front of them, gave the team a filthy look (according to Sara), and beat a hasty retreat in to the bush. Upon returning from the box trap round they discovered the cheetah had since returned to its kill, moved it a few metres and eaten a bit more. At the end of the afternoon we all gathered at the site and assisted in the repositioning of one of the box traps with the kill inside. It was unsure if this technique would succeed in trapping the cheetah, but they are generally keen to return to their kills, as long as they made the kill themselves recently (you can't bait cheetahs with just any kind of meat).This morning we began by checking the northern box traps (with appearances from the two giraffes, a few zebra, lots of leopard-faced vultures) before heading down to the trap containing the fresh kill, which was by now closed with the cheetah inside! By this time she had polished of three quarters of her springbok and wasn't too happy about being cooped up in the trap! Harald and Birgit were keen to undertake the veterinary investigation, but did not want to retain her for long in case she had cubs waiting for her return. Yet given that she had recently eaten, it was impossible to sedate her immediately. As a compromise we left the procedure until late afternoon and darted and immobilised her around 5 o'clock today. Everything went well- a 40kg female without cubs, she recovered well from the intervention and was seen darting off in to the bush about an hour ago (too young to becollared, she was fitted with a microchip to assist with future identification). A very surprising and overwhelming first day for the new team members (and a unique birthday present for Ursula). We'll catch up with the planned activities tomorrow and see what other surprises are in store!

Sunday, April 10, 2005




Charles and Camilla's wedding day.

The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles have finally become husband and wife -more than 30 years after their romance first began. More than 20,000 people cheered as they arrived at Windsor's Guildhall for their small private civil wedding. Afterwards they returned to Windsor Castle for a service of blessing led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. About 800 of the couple's family and friends attended including the Queen and Prince Philip. The Prime Minister, other political figures, diplomats, church leaders, showbiz personalities were among the congregation in St George's Chapel.
Prince Charles and the new Duchess of Cornwall entered arm-in-arm to make their solemn vows. The Duchess had worn an oyster silk basket-weave coat and chiffon dress for the civil ceremony, but changed into a porcelain blue silk dress for the blessing of her marriage. During the service the couple promised to be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives. After the ceremony, the couple walked around and chatted to members of the public gathered outside the chapel.
Despite Becher's Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles my son has come through and I'm very proud and wish them well. They then made their way to a reception, hosted by the Queen, at the castle's State Apartments. There the Prince and Duchess mingled with their guests who were offered egg and cress sandwiches, mini Cornish pasties and scones.
They included all the senior British royals, invited foreign royals, eight governors-general, leaders of opposition parties and a host of celebrities. Charles's biographer Jonathan Dimbleby, broadcaster Sir David Frost, musicians Phil Collins and Jools Holland and actors Rowan Atkinson, Edward Fox, Kenneth Branagh, Joanna Lumley, Richard E Grant and Prunella Scales were all there. Guests said the Queen made a speech at the reception, in which she told how "proud" she was of her son on his wedding day, and wished the couple well.
Following the reception, the newly-wed couple departed for their honeymoon at Birkhall on the edge of the Balmoral Estate in Scotland. Princes William and Harry had decorated the Bentley which drove the couple away from the castle. The words "Prince" and "Duchess" were sprayed on either side of the windscreen and "Just Married" written on the back windscreen. Bunches of red, white and yellow metallic balloons had been tied to the couple's car. Earlier in the day Camilla became the most senior female member of the Royal Family after the Queen - when Prince Charles slipped a wedding ring crafted from Welsh gold onto her finger.
As the couple left the Guildhall, Prince Charles mouthed "Thank you very much" to the cheering crowds. Among the well-wishers was Vivienne Reay, 53, from Staines, Middlesex. She said: "It's brilliant, I think it's really nice that they're married, they've waited long enough and I'm just really pleased for them." Security was extra tight around Windsor with marksmen on rooftops, officers mingling in the crowd and police with sniffer dogs patrolling the route. However, the only public disturbance was a streaker who broke away from the crowd and was quickly apprehended by police.
The wedding brings to a conclusion a relationship between Charles and Camilla that began when they met at a Windsor polo match in 1970, a year before the prince joined the Royal Navy. They became great friends but there was no proposal and Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles. Charles married the then Diana Spencer 24 years ago in 1981. Diana, Princess of Wales, famously referred to Camilla as one of the contributing factors in the breakdown of her marriage to Charles.


There is only one pretty child in the world,
and every Mother has it.

Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,

Feelings of despair and disbelief persist a week after Zimbabwe's elections. I still have a faint pink stain on the sides and under the nail of the little finger of my left hand. This is a remnant of the ink which was used to mark me as having voted and when I look at the stain now, I can hardly believe how quickly elation and hope were replaced with anger and betrayal as the results were announced. Every day since the elections the state have crowed about peace, democracy and political maturity but they have said nothing about 3 million Zimbabweans living outside the country who were not allowed to vote or a tenth of the voters inside the country who were turned away when they got to polling stations on the 31stMarch. Every news bulletin begins with a countdown of how many days are left before the 25th anniversary of independence and democracy in the country but then the reports that follow do not tell of the 257 unarmed women of WOZA who were arrested for praying nor why such an act was indicative of, in their words, "a mature democracy". In the week that followed the election result, the huge sense of disappointment has been almost too much to bear. The MDC took many days to find their voices and when they did it was to say they had evidence showing massive electoral fraud and figures which displayed huge numerical discrepancies in more than 30 constituencies. The government of course dispute the claims and the bulk of the South African observers had already made their claims of peace and freedom and so nothing has changed, we have heard all this before, been there, done that and got the T shirt. None of this gives ordinary Zimbabweans hope. Neither the outrage of the MDC nor the arrogant crowing of Zanu PF has done a thing to actually help ordinary Zimbabweans this week. It hasn't put medicines back in hospitals, kids back in schools, food on our tables or clothes on our backs. In the last seven days since the elections the prices of basic goods have increased bybetween 50 and 100%. Margarine, sugar and cooking oil have disappeared from the shelves and petrol queues have started again. Across the country many thousands of people made so many sacrifices this last fortnight, giving so much and showing such courage as they worked for democracy and now the feeling of betrayal is palpable. Along with millions of others, I watched the funeral of Pope John Paul the second this week and his life long call to oppressed people to not be afraid is most apt for Zimbabweans struggling to see hope and light this week. Love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle 9th April 2005 Mybooks "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available ; ;; in Australia and New Zealand: ; Africa: