Wednesday, August 26, 2009

There is nothing authentic about Fourways. Nothing.

SHOOT: Great article from Sarah Britten. It’s our disconnection from anything resembling human-friendly developments, what is increasingly referred to as ‘New Urbanism’, that makes our living arrangements so depressing. And there’s a simple reason for this. We design places for cars rather than for people.

The comedian David Kibuuka, who is originally from Uganda, used to start his set with the words: “Hi, I’m David and I’m from Fourways.”

It always got a laugh, and, until recently, I never paused to ask myself why. After all, lots of black people live in Fourways. So why should the notion that a black dude lives there be so funny-ha ha? And yet Fourways is the most un-African place anyone can think of. It’s Ford Fiestas in Provencal-themed Summercon complexes, the gleaming fake spires of Montecasino, the Absa balloon tethered to the ground. There is nothing authentic about Fourways. Nothing.

 blog it

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Swine flu in Zimbabwe: "We can handle it."

When you arrive at Beitbridge from South Africa you are overwhelmed by touts.

Aggressive young men in their twenties who swarm around you and solicit bribes in order for you to proceed through the formalities. The touts control the speed and progress of everything: the queues, the forms, the stamps and signatures, the customs inspections and the final scrap of paper, the gate pass, that allows you get through the boom and into Zimbabwe. Both of the travellers I spoke to said they simply found it impossible to proceed without giving in to the demands for bribes. Every time they got near the counters in the border post the touts and their customers would push in ahead of them with great piles of papers and none of the officials on duty were interested in intervening, not immigration, security, customs or tax collectors. Touts appeared to be making an average of 500 Rand, or 50 US dollars per customer - half the month's pay of a trained teacher in Zimbabwe.

SHOOT: Lawlessness in South Africa and Zimbabwe is growing. The fabric of society is becoming corrupt to its core.
clipped from www.moneyweb.co.za
Swine flu has officially arrived in Zimbabwe. A ZBC TV news bulletin this week reported that there were a number of confirmed cases of swine flu in Mutare. The report said that people should not panic because hospitals were prepared, staff had been trained and information would soon be disseminated to private practitioners.
The toilets at the border are apparently a swamp, there is no toilet paper, no towels and no way at all to keep yourself clean. Everyone waits till they are through the border and then pull up on the roadside and relieve themselves in the bush. If we are to believe ZBC, it is into this madness of Beitbridge border post that there is going to be swine flu detection and control. Pardon the pun, but pigs might fly!
Zimbabwe's unity government has been in place for six months but it is still the thieves, con-men, blackmailers and bullies that are manning the entry points into our country.
 blog it

Do you smoke? Are you fucked in the head?

* Tobacco kills one-third to one-half of those who smoke. Smokers die an average of 15 years earlier than nonsmokers.

* Nearly 60 percent of Chinese men smoke and China consumes more than 37 percent of the world's cigarettes.

* 50 million Chinese children, mostly boys, will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.

* Tobacco use will eventually kill 250 million of today's teenagers and children.

* Nearly one-quarter of young people who smoke tried their first cigarette before the age of 10.

* Occupational exposure to secondhand smoke kills 200,000 workers every year.

SHOOT: One third of all cancers are tobacco related, and in the 21st century, 1 billion peope are projected to die of cancer. [That's 333 million from smoking. Do you plan on being one of them?
clipped from news.yahoo.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
Tobacco use will kill 6 million people next year from cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a range of other ills, global cancer experts said in a report issued on Tuesday.


The new Tobacco Atlas from the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society estimates that tobacco use costs the global economy $500 billion a year in direct medical expenses, lost productivity and environmental harm.


"Tobacco's total economic costs reduce national wealth in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 3.6 percent," the report reads.


"Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide and will claim 5.5 million lives this year alone," the report said. If current trends hold, by 2020, the number will grow to an estimated 7 million and top 8 million by 2030.


Some other findings from the report, available at http://www.tobaccoatlas.org/:


* 1 billion men smoke -- 35 percent of men in rich countries and 50 percent of men in developing countries.

 blog it

H1N1 in South Africa: 1 people in George had tested positive, four in Knysna, four in Plettenberg Bay and two in Mossel Bay

Dr Hannes de Villiers, of George, said he had seen a lot of people who suspected they had swine flu but had ordinary flu. “We are fully booked every day,” he said. “I think people are panicking at this stage.”

SHOOT: Guess that's why it's called a pandemic, because it spreads everywhere, to everyone.
Garden Route doctors have been inundated by people fearing they may have contracted swine flu, according to pathologists who have been processing hundreds of tests every day.
But Dr Daleen Brink, who conducts tests for Path-Care Laboratories in George, said yesterday that the number of requested tests had dropped off over the past two weeks after they asked doctors to examine only high-risk patients and not everyone reporting with flu symptoms.
“We were receiving between 600 and 800 test requests per day for the Western Cape,” Brink said. “Now, it has dropped down to around 200 tests per day.”
She added that about 20% of the tests were positive for the A(H1N1) virus.
By Wednesday last week, Brink’s tests showed that 11 people in George had tested positive, four in Knysna, four in Plettenberg Bay and two in Mossel Bay.
 blog it

Flu death toll in S.Africa climbs to 18

SHOOT: I think the case of Annique, misdiagnosed with tonsilitus shows how risky this dismikssive attitude of 'laziness to testing and counting' suspected cases is. Risky because a mistake can lead to a sudden loss of life.
While a depressed immunity predisposes you to any infection, the full story is that this sickness also kills healthy people. That means, you may have no underlying sickness, and be relatively young, and you can catch the flu, and die. I think South Africans are starting to become a little concerned about it.
clipped from www.google.com

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's swine flu death toll has risen to 18 from a total of more than 5,000 cases as health authorities Monday urged critical care for pregnant women with flu-like symptoms.

"Nine of the deaths have been in pregnant woman, with the majority in the third trimester of pregnancy," the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said in a statement.

"It is critical that pandemic influenza A(H1N1) infection should receive particular attention in any pregnant woman with influenza-like illness."

Other risk factors for severe illness were people with asthma, diabetes, any chronic heart and lung condition and any cause of depressed immunity.

However, the NICD said the bulk of infections were mild, adding that routine testing was not needed to guide treatment.

 blog it

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stop selling us packaging - we only want what's inside!

ECONOMIST.com: One strategy would be to sidestep retailers completely and sell directly to consumers through the internet. P&G’s new boss, Bob McDonald, has alluded to this sort of plan. It could be exactly the type of “game-changer” his company desperately needs.

SHOOT: What these brands need to do is quit selling packaging to consumers, and sell us the contents. That is, after all, what we're buying, not pretty pictures. The brands that make these deprecating moves will survive those who insist on selling packaging and frills that consumers can no longer afford.
clipped from www.economist.com

Earlier this month P&G reported profits of $2.5 billion, down 18% in the most recent quarter from a year earlier. Sales of its products—which include such brands as Bounty paper towels and Tide detergent—were down 11%. Analysts worry that it might take years for the company to restore its profits to their former levels.

For most packaged-goods firms, recent earnings reports were grim. Unilever, the world’s third-largest consumer-goods firm by sales, announced this month that profits in the second quarter were down 17% from a year ago. Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex tissues and Scott paper towels, Sara Lee, a manufacturer of frozen foods, and Colgate-Palmolive, with its eponymous toothpaste and soap, all saw revenues drop in the past quarter. Firms that specialise in food, including NestlĂ©, Kraft and Kellogg, are holding up better than those that sell products for cleaning and grooming, but only because consumers are preparing more meals at home.

 blog it

South Africans currently paying record-high prices at the till, Checkers is cheapest, then Pick n Pay and then Spar

"Our basket focuses on basic foodstuffs such as bread, milk, margarine and rice, and does not attempt to monitor the prices of luxury items. The reality is that most South Africans buy these basic foodstuffs and they are currently paying record-high prices for these products. The consumer will have to protest more effectively against this," Kleynhans said.

SHOOT: I believe the time is not far away where we will see demand destruction take place, and suppliers will begin to change the inputs that go into things like packaging and printing costs. Because more and more will simply not be able to afford food in future.
clipped from www.fin24.com
Solidarity's research revealed that Checkers was "slightly ahead" of
Pick n Pay and Spar in terms of competitiveness. "If we leave out all the
products in our basket that are on special or are not available, our basket
currently costs R175.73 at Checkers. At Pick n Pay our basket costs
R181.43 and at Spar R197.22.
"Our basket focuses on basic foodstuffs such as bread, milk, margarine
and rice, and does not attempt to monitor the prices of luxury items. The
reality is that most South Africans buy these basic foodstuffs and they are
currently paying record-high prices for these products. The consumer will
have to protest more effectively against this," Kleynhans said.
"Following the 16.8% food price increase last year, we still saw
increases at the beginning of 2009, despite the drop in input costs
experienced in the fourth quarter of 2008.
 blog it

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Swine flu death in Randfontein brings South Africa's toll to 9

SHOOT: I'm surprised these numbers are so low.
clipped from www.iol.co.za
A ninth South African has died of swine flu, Beeld newspaper reported on Friday.

Although the death of Gautenger Grobbie Grobler, 53, on Saturday, has not been confirmed by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Beeld said it had a copy of his death certificate.

It stated that he had died of swine flu.

He was a car mechanic in Randfontein on Johannesburg's West Rand.

The NICD has confirmed eight H1N1 deaths, including three pregnant women.
 blog it

Friday, August 21, 2009

You can't have lightspeed internet and electric cars getting 230mpg if the lights aren't on

SHOOT: People are preoccupied, dazzled in fact, by technology. They're unaware of the the simple fundamentals [reality], which is that you can't have a population growing infinitely and limited resources depleting without coming up to a crisis, a crash, a collapse. In South Africa we've reached our electricity limits, but we still expect to be able to build hundreds of thousands of new homes, and don't think that will have an impact on electricity demand, and supply. Well, koo koo, it does, it is having an impact.
clipped from news.idg.no

The question of electric power has dominated discussions on how technology can be used to spur economic growth on the continent. South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and countries within the Sahara desert suffer from chronic power shortages that outstrip domestic and industrial demand.

 blog it

By 2012, electricity will make up 10% of household expenses

MONEYWEB: This is going to create a price shock of which we have not seen since the oil shocks of the 70s. It was the oil shocks of the 70s that coined the phrase stagflation. Is stagflation what South Africans are going to remember most about the second decade of this century?

WIKI: Stagflation is an economic situation in which inflation and economic stagnation occur simultaneously and remain unchecked for a period of time.

Economists offer two principal explanations for why stagflation occurs. First, stagflation can result when an economy is slowed by an unfavorable supply shock, such as an increase in the price of oil in an oil importing country.Second, both stagnation and inflation can result from inappropriate macroeconomic policies. For example, central banks can cause inflation by permitting excessive growth of the money supply.
clipped from www.moneyweb.co.za

There are rumours that on September 30 Eskom will be asking for a 40% price hike each year for the next three years. Reports say that this could see our electricity prices more than double. Just doubling our electricity bill would be a relief - what South African households will actually experience is electricity that is 267% more expensive in 2012 than 2008. Simply adding percentage hikes together does not show the compounding affect of price hikes on top of price hikes.

If one looks at 2008 figures for household consumption, electricity makes up 3% of our total household expenditure.  However, if all other goods and services only increase in line with an inflation rate of 6%, the amount of household income spent on electricity will rise to 10%.

Although large users of electricity like steel manufacturers, mines and smelters can all negotiate rates, smaller businesses will simply have to accept the price increases and hand this on to consumers.
 blog it

ALEC HOGG: I spend a lot of time at the Rosebank Mall - not too much time, not like David with the coffee shops - and I've noticed there that the security presence is probably up 50% in the last couple of weeks

Tragically Jaco Pretorius, managing director of Protea Coin Security's guarding division, died in hospital after allegedly being shot while trying to stop three robbers who had just hit a Sterns jewellery store at the Irene Mall Village, Centurion.

Listen to more here: http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/applications/mw/templates/2009_listen_audio.jsp?url=/mw/media_stream/mw/audio/090818-04.mp3

SHOOT: Crime is coming closer to us as financial conditions worsen for more and more people. Over 700 000 South Africans lost their jobs since the beginning of 2009.

Gauteng malls have been hardest hit, but shopping centres elsewhere haven't escaped this growing trend of robberies. At Canal Walk, Century City, in Cape Town, a mall employee was shot and wounded by robbers in April and a restaurant employee was shot and injured in May in a robbery.

Earlier this month two security guards were shot and wounded at the Trade Route Mall in Lenasia.

In the first week of August there were at least five incidents involving armed gunmen at Gauteng shopping malls including at the Bracken City Mall, Alberton, where a gang of about 20 robbed a Pick 'n Pay supermarket, a bottle store and a pharmacy within a few minutes. The robbers, apparently armed with handguns, worked through tills and ordered customers and shop attendants onto the ground, before getting into a shoot-out with Ekurhuleni Metro police officers as they were making a get-away. One officer was injured. 

And, so the list goes on, of one shopping mall "hit" after the next.

 blog it

Sowetan newspaper provides proof that Caster Semenya’s a girl

“People should not mistake her strong voice and her physique for that of a man. She has always been a girl and did everything that girls did,” said Morolong.

SHOOT: Case dismissed?
clipped from www.sowetan.co.za
clipped from www.sowetan.co.za
Mokgadi Caster Semenya is a girl, and her birth certificate corroborates what her family, friends, neighbours, teachers and fellow pupils have always known.

Semenya, who is now the centre of attention after winning gold in 800m at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Berlin on Wednesday night, was certified a girl at her birth on January 7, 1991.

The fracas about her gender has now angered Masetlhong villagers in Moletji outside Polokwane, where Semenya was born and bred.

“Caster is a girl and the school has never had doubts about her gender.

“To top it all, she is straight and has never entertained issues of lesbianism,” he said.

“She used to be a good soccer player, though she was an average pupil in class,” he said, adding that Semenya was a “very talkative” person who is fond of tsotsitaal.

“That she is a tomboy does not mean that she is a man,” Modiba said.

Her long-time friend Debra Morolong also quashed doubts that Semenya was a man.

 blog it

Thursday, August 20, 2009

H1N1 vaccination strategy: "If you can stop it in the schools, you can indirectly protect grandparents, or co-workers without kids"

SHOOt: They key to fighting this virus appears to be containing the infections taking place in schools.
clipped from www.reuters.com
"Flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective at blocking infection. If you can prevent people from being exposed to begin with, it is more effective than vaccinating people at risk," Medlock said in a telephone interview.
CHICAGO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Contrary to current U.S. strategy, vaccinating school children and their parents against the flu is the best way to protect the nation from influenza, including the new pandemic swine flu, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.
They said vaccine priority should be given to people most likely to spread the virus, not those most at risk of serious complications from it.
Seasonal and H1N1 vaccination guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently target people who are likely to become the most ill if infected.
 blog it

South Africans addicted to motoring fnatasies more than any other market in the world

Here, 53% would choose "fantasy" - the highest percentage of any market. Synovate executive Richard Rice says: "People love their cars for the freedom, the image they create and what they say about their status. That image is far more important than how environmentally friendly a car is.

SHOOT: I'm not surprised; we're in denial about everything else.

South Africans are the world's most "un-green" car buyers, suggests a study by international market research firm Synovate. The study, across 18 countries, found 60% of people would buy an environmentally friendly car ahead of their "fantasy" one. Not in SA. Here, 53% would choose "fantasy" - the highest percentage of any market. Synovate executive Richard Rice says: "People love their cars for the freedom, the image they create and what they say about their status. That image is far more important than how environmentally friendly a car is."

Not necessarily at the top end of the market, says Kevin Flynn, GM of Lexus SA, which has launched a range of petrol/electric hybrid vehicles in SA. He expects to sell 350 this year and predicts hybrids will outsell petrol Lexuses within five years. He says their advantage is that Lexus models don't sacrifice performance for environmental correctness.

 blog it

Monday, August 17, 2009

Eskom sayswe need 'at least' 40 new coal mines

SHOOT: That's code for 'We won't have enough electricity for everyone eventually', which I think we already know, but just aren't too keen to face. We needed to invest in nuclear power about 10-20 years ago. Now it is too late for a couple of reasons, one being that there just isn't any money.
clipped from www.mg.co.za
South Africa needs at least 40 new coal mines to prevent shortages over the long term, Eskom operations head Brian Dames said in an interview published on Tuesday.
"While Eskom's demand for coal in the past few years has been increasing by 5% per year, coal production in South Africa has remained constant," Dames told Sake24.
"That is why it has become so difficult for Eskom to get coal cheaply. The demand is higher than the supply. In the next 10 years, big investments would have to be done in coal mines. South Africa needs at least 40 new coal mines," said Dames, adding that the investment could cost up to R40-billion.
Dames said further investment was required in the logistics behind transporting coal.
"Great volumes of coal have to be transported by road because there is no alternative. If the trucks stop running, there will be no more power. It is as simple as that," he warned.
Coal sources are far from coal power stations, exacerbating the problem.
 blog it

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Swine flu in South Africa: Death toll doubles, case loads surge

SHOOT: I predict that while it may peak and dissipate in countries like Australia, here it will burn deeper and longer through our more vulnerable communities, and of course this is a major concern.
clipped from www.google.com

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's swine flu death toll has increased to six in two weeks making the country the worst affected by the epidemic on the continent, health officials said Sunday.

Three people died last week, two pregnant women aged 23 and 27 and a man in his 60s.

"Swine flu fatalities in the country now stand at six, this makes us the leading country in Africa with the most A(H1N1) case load and fatalities," national health spokesman Fidel Hadebe, told AFP.

South Africa reported its first infection in June and the country is dealing with some 2800 cases so far, according to the health department.

 blog it

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Standard Bank profit moves backward 31%

WSJ: Credit impairments for the half-year were 58% higher at ZAR7.12 billion, which resulted in a credit loss ratio of 1.84% against 1.31% a year earlier.

SHOOT: The banking business is going to contract even further in the future as autos and property markets dry up. Standard Bank didn't do to badly in comparison to its nearest competitor.

WSJ: Absa Group Ltd. (ASA.JO), South Africa's biggest retail lender, earlier this month said it expects to remain under pressure for the rest of the year due to rising arrears and non-performing loans. The bank, majority owned by the U.K.'s Barclays PLC (BCS), posted a 39% drop in its first-half net profit after impairments rose and business volumes fell.
clipped from online.wsj.com


JOHANNESBURG (Dow Jones)--Standard Bank Group Ltd. (SBK.JO), Africa's largest lender by assets, Thursday said it expects a decline in earnings this year after its first-half profit was hit by rising impairments amid the global economic recession.


The Johannesburg-based company said it wouldn't provide specific guidance for the year, but that current trends suggest so-called normalized earnings will be lower than in 2008.


Standard Bank said its first-half earnings fell 24% to 5.41 billion rand ($674.3 million), excluding one-time items and adjusting for shares used to fund ownership by black South Africans and stock held for policyholders of its insurance unit Liberty Holdings Ltd. (LBH.JO). Liberty was pushed to a loss of ZAR1.21 billion in part by a rise in lapses of insurance policies.


Net profit was down 31% at ZAR5.11 billion, or 343.5 cents a share, from ZAR7.4 billion, or 521.2 cents, a year earlier.

 blog it

1 Reason why not to friend your boss on Facebook

Brent Wong: Some people just don’t care what they share everywhere or don’t realize that once you put something out on the internet, it is (presumably) there forever. This person obviously hasn’t marketed herself well and might have a harder time finding a job in the future.

SHOOT: Errr... after reading the clip below do you need any more?
 blog it

IOL Swine Flu poll shows South Africans say: "Snore, it's no big deal"

SHOOT: Must admit I am contemplating a trip to Cape Town in 2 weeks and am considering wearing a face mask on the plane. I'm also a little bit doubtful of going, but I probably will go.

When I lived in South Korea and H5N1 came out I remember people reacted in the same way. AIDS/TB/Malaria is 'much worse'. Of course, none of those sicknesses spread as effortlessly as flu. And while death tolls are low now, and virulence low, that can change. It might, it might not. Here's the common sense takeout: historically the greatest killer of our species isn't war - it is pandemic flu. It is the POTENTIAL that this flu has to kill millions that should keep us vigilant, and concerned. Our standards to health and fitness around the world are poor, and each person needs to re-examine their diets and activities, or lack of.
clipped from www.iol.co.za

IOL asked its readers: What are you doing about swine flu?

Of the 1 012 people who participated in the poll, 84 percent (854 votes) said "Nothing"; 11 percent (107 votes) said "Fretting" and 5 percent (52 votes) said "Staying in".

Here are some of the comments posted online...:
Infected:
Nothing can be done by the government. the best advise is for poeple displaying the symptoms to stay at home , this is the only way the spread can be stopped. No country has managed to contain the spread so far
James

People are still more likely to die in a car crash, or by being murdered or from something like TB/AIDS related illnesses than from H1N1 at this stage. If you live healthily and if you go for your checkup if you get flu like symptoms then what more can you do? If you get the flu then you get it, and no amount of stressing beforehand is going to help you.
 blog it