Saturday, October 31, 2009

People in Guangzhou and other cities are ditching bikes for clean, new subway trains. And cars.

SHOOT: It's amazing that this AP article reads exactly like someone's personal blog. It's also written in the first person. The news and blogs are now almost indistinguishable [I should say good blogs perhaps].
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This Oct. 13, 2009 photo shows Associated Press reporter William Foreman, left,

GUANGZHOU, China – A friend sent me a YouTube link to a video called "Insane Cycling — New York City." I clicked on it, hoping to glean a few tips for my own cycling on the anarchic streets of China.

I came away feeling like someone who expects to see "Mad Max" and is shown "Sesame Street" instead. New York seemed like a wonderful place to ride. Pedestrians used the crosswalks. Buses lumbered along like gentle whales. Taxis used their turn signals. The streets looked so clean. No one honked.

If that's insanity, what can be said of cycling in Guangzhou, the muggy, traffic-clogged city once known as Canton? It's my constant dilemma — hit the road or stick to the treadmill at the gym?

Cycling always wins. Not only is it more fun being outdoors but it's a way of taking China's pulse.

Those throngs are an iconic image for China, but it's becoming outdated. Led by a swelling middle class, people in Guangzhou and other cities are ditching bikes for clean, new subway trains.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

What mistakes to avoid when buying a second-hand car

Criminals can create counterfeit or fraudulent titles and use them to legally register and then sell stolen cars. If you buy a car without a valid title, it's the worst-case scenario -- you don't legally own the car you just bought.

SHOOT: Be careful when buying a used car. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
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5 Used-Car Red Flags

If only cars could talk. It would make the buying experience a lot easier, wouldn't it? Because
verbalized or not, every used car has a story to tell. And to avoid getting ripped off, it's up to you to
listen. You need to know about the skeletons in that car's closet, the dark secrets of its past.

Red Flag #1: No Service Records

One of the most important aspects of a used car is its maintenance history. You want to make sure you're
buying a vehicle that has had routine oil changes and major mileage services. Always ask the seller, even if
it's a car dealership, for all service records.

Red Flag #2: Vehicle and Accident History Issues

The report shows accident/damage
history as well as title problems, frame damage and an odometer rollback check -- any of which should be
deal breakers.

Red Flag #3: Mechanical Problems

Red Flag #4: A Problem Title

Red Flag #5: A Fraudulent Title

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'Job losses to exceed a million'

SHOOT: Not to worry, the economy is on track to 'recover' and companies will soon turn a profit again, as soon as they can dismiss enough employees to cut their overheads.
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Johannesburg - Job losses could exceed the one million mark for 2009 by the
fourth quarter of the year, trade union Solidarity said on Thursday.

This followed the release of Statistics SA's quarterly Labour Force Survey which showed that the official jobless rate had increased from 23.6% to 24.5% in the third quarter of 2009.

"More than 770 000 employees in South Africa have lost their jobs in the past 12 months, since the start of the economic downswing in the third quarter of 2008," the trade union said in a statement.

He said although there were signs of economic revival, many retrenchment processes still needed to be finalised and would therefore only be reflected in the statistics of the coming months.

The survey showed that the manufacturing and retail sectors were
particularly hard hit in the third quarter.

"Nearly 150 000 job losses were recorded in the manufacturing
sector in the third quarter, while 194 000 job losses were recorded
in the past 12 months.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I've lost my job - how do I go about claiming UIF

SHOOT: You'll need the following information from your previous employer
- last 6 payslips, a U119 form
-You will need to provide your ID book or Passport and complete a U12 form at your local Department of Labour of Office
-Proof that you are registered as a work-seeker with the Dept. of Labour

Find your local Labour Office here:

Credits are given to the worker as they work and contribute to the Fund. For every six days you have worked you get one day’s credit up to a maximum of 238 days. To build up the maximum credits you have to work for four years. If you have worked for less than 238 days you can claim for the number of days credits you have built up. Benefits are calculated on a sliding scale dependent on your salary. The benefit rates range from 38% for the highly paid workers (earning more than R97 188 per annum, R8099 per month or R1869 per week) to 58% for the lowest paid workers.
types of benefits provided by the Fund: 
– If you lose your job you must apply
within 6 months of becoming unemployed.  You can claim benefits for up to 34 weeks (238 days).
Benefits can be claimed when:
Benefits may be claimed
for any period of unemployment lasting more than 14 days, if -
The reason for
the unemployment is the termination of a contract of employment,
dismissal of the contributor or insolvency;
Application is
made in accordance with the prescribed requirements;
The contributor
is registered as a work-seeker with a labour centre established
under the Skills Development Act;
The contributor
is capable of and available for work.
of payment by the Fund:
needed to apply for benefits:
Unemployment Benefits

13 digit bar-coded identity document or

Last 6 payslips

Information supplied by employer (U119)

A fully completed application booklet

Proof that you are registered as a
work-seeker with the Dept. of Labour

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"It's easy to Spot a BAR-ONE Man” reality series

SHOOT: Looks like fun.
A new reality TV series, Bar-One Manhunt, will be broadcast on Wednesday nights SABC3 prime time early next year, Nestlé announced on Monday 26 October 2009. The series is an extension of the brand's latest creative integrated marketing campaign, "It's easy to Spot a BAR-ONE Man” .

It's easy to Spot the Bar-One Man, which is at the creative centre of Bar-One’s latest creative brand campaign, but now 14 South African contestants will have an opportunity to actually compete against each other for the ultimate title as South Africa’s alpha male in “Bar-One Manhunt” which will début on SABC3 in January 2010.
"The reality TV show concept is spot on with the brand architecture and DNA - the chocolate bar gives real men the energy to live a 25 hour day,” states Monique Koning, Bar-One brand manager.
Several challenges are planned for each episode offering brain and brawn showdowns on various sets in locations in South Africa and others across the world.
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How do you market a country with the sort of disgusting statistics we have?

SHOOT: Answer, just get marketers and figure it out. Forget the reality that it is a dangerous country, that crime and corruption is a chaotic levels. Just market it like mad because maybe you can earn some money. Great strategy there.

Marion Scher: The sad thing is what is being done to educate people overseas, especially with 2010 looming. I tell you what - virtually nothing or at least nothing I've seen in my travels.

On my recent flight back from Atlanta, the plane was full, mostly with Americans. But were they coming to stay in Johannesburg. Oh no - not Johannesburg. The ones I spoke to were either catching immediate connecting flights to Botswana or staying close to the airport 'til they could catch flights out the next day.
In the last year I've visited the US and the UK and the one thing they have in common is their fear of South Africa as a destination. Unless they've already been here, you'll hear the same refrain - “South Africa, oh no, wouldn't consider going there - way too dangerous.”
So alright, no good kidding ourselves, we do have a crime problem. But hey, I've just come back from Dallas where the local TV news featured a story on restaurants closing down. Not from lack of customers but from repeated break-ins. And how come everyone there has an alarm on their house?
While in the US, I heard from numerous people that South Africans had told them:
  • That it wasn't safe to walk on the streets in SA
  • That there was no way we could hold a decent FIFA World Cup
  • SA was such a backward nation
  • ALL our politicians were corrupt - somehow they ignored what was on their own back yard here
  • There were very few real houses - mainly shacks
  • There are riots every day
  • You needed bodyguards to go out of your house
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Ponzi masterminds to be arrested

SHOOT: But they said they didn't do it.
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Johannesburg - Warrants for the arrest of Barry Tannenbaum and Dean Rees, alleged to have been behind a multi-billion rand pyramid scheme, have been issued, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in parliament.

Gordhan said one individual was thought to have benefited by up to R800m on which "he was not probably paying any tax."

The scheme crossed some eight jurisdictions, said Gordhan who was formerly head of the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Tannenbaum, who currently lives in Australia, has denied being involved in such a scheme.

"Our efforts have to include better vigilance in both the public and private sectors against corruption and financial mismanagement," said Gordhan.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

350 in pictures

SHOOT: Good to see some activity but seems like it wasn't very well attended. I think instead of protesting there should be more of an attempt to do something or change something. Tree planting, a day on a farm, an attempt to live at home in the most sustainable way possible. The impact on the world turning off lightbulbs for an hour, for example, has an immediate effect.
I believe people are willing to ration themselves because one thing I think we're all clear on is this: massive consumption isn't good for us, or for this planet.
More here:
350 Table Mountain
350 Soweto towers
350 Noordhoek
350 Noordhoek
350 Signal Hill
350 Signal Hill
350 Kenya
350 Kenya
350 Ethiopia
350 Ethiopia
350 Mexico City
350 Mexico City
350 Chicago
350 Chicago
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UFS to re-open Reitz - following criticism of its decision to pardon

SHOOT: What a sad story. You'd think a year before the 2010 World Cup that the government would want such a shameful headline grabber out of the newspapers. But it is the ANC who are pushing for the re-opening of the Reitz case hardest. Why? Because 'Cry Racism' is a rallying call to other Africans. It's political efficacy isn't in doubt. It's good for Malema and black solidarity. It's divisive and harmful to everyone else of course. It's certainly at odds with Madiba's spirit of reconciliation.
Which is better, to blame the Reitz four, or to punish and then forgive them?
The way to resolve this matter ought really to be to see how the 'victims' of this case feel. Not to have the Youth League take up/make up the cause of the 'victims' as appears to be the case.
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Bloemfontein - The University of the Free State will reopen discussions on the Reitz residence video following criticism of its decision to pardon the four students involved, it said on Sunday.

"All stakeholders inside and outside the UFS are invited to meet with the university management to table their concerns and to try to find consensus on a way forward," rector Jonathan Jansen said in a statement.

Anyone who wanted to be take part in these talks should contact Billyboy Ramahlele on 051-401-2822 to make an appointment. UFS management would be available for these consultations at any time.

At his inauguration last Friday, Jansen announced the university had pardoned four former Reitz students whom filmed an initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities in 2007.

Jansen's announcement had drawn criticism, notably from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Cosatu and the ANC Youth League, and praise in the past week.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

350 is the most important number in the world

"Tomorrow will be the single most widespread day of citizens' action that the earth has ever seen."
In Cape Town a group of hikers will form a human 350 on top of Table Mountain which will be filmed from a helicopter "to send out the powerful message to the world that we need a fair, ambitious and binding agreement at Copenhagen towards promoting the safety of our ecosystems and the communities which depend on them".
Other events in South Africa include the Emmarentia Dam march (on Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00) in Johannesburg, where supporters can join a parade, enjoy a picnic afterwards and get the opportunity to write a postcard to President Jacob Zuma urging him to go to Copenhagen.
If you like building sand castles, Durban is the place to be. Between 11:00 to 13:00 Dairy beach will be transformed with sand art, music and inspiration. "As 350-Messenger, Archbishop Tutu says, 'I ask all people to support climate fairness tomorrow by starting or joining an awareness-raising action where you live. It's a chance for us to act as global citizens, not as isolated individuals and lonely consumers.'"
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Millions of people will be participating in over 4 000 events in 170 countries, including South Africa, in a call on leaders to take global action against the worst crisis humans have ever faced,  by reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million.
"A year ago, our greatest climatologist - Nasa's James Hansen - and his team produced a landmark series of studies. They showed that if we let the amount of carbon in the atmosphere go above 350 parts per million, we can’t have a planet similar to the one on which civilisation developed and to which life on earth has adapted," says McKibben.
The bad news is that we're already past that number. "We're at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting, why drought is spreading across the planet, why people are already dying from diseases like dengue fever and malaria occurring in places where they’ve never been seen before."
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Buy property now, before the market worsens again

SHOOT: Have you heard of a sucker's rally? If you buy property now, you're a sucker. It's still on it's way down. If you own property, consider subdividing and renting, because renting is going to be big from here on out.
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"With massive electricity hikes looming, upward pressure on oil ahead of the northern hemisphere winter and a volatile rand, the SARB's MPC committee would have been deeply concerned about inflation getting out of control," he said.

Falconer said the property market could certainly have benefited from a further rate cut, "but we'll have to be content with a reduction of 500 basis points since December last year".

"But potential homeowners have held back, hoping for further rate cuts," he said.

"Property prices are as low as they're going to go; the market is well stocked with bargains; there are many eager sellers; banks are again advancing credit; there are clear indications the property market as a whole is starting to move again, and it's time for buyers to get back in."

"The Australian Reserve Bank has become the first central bank to hike its repo rate, and we may follow suit in the next few months," Falconer said.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pick 'n Pay warns consumers: It's going to be tough

SHOOT: How do they know? Because no name brands are selling like hot cakes.

It was also looking at expanding its footprint in Africa with stores already planned for Lesotho and Zambia in the next few months.

Badminton said Pick n Pay has also identified Angola and Mozambique as future investment areas.
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"It's going to be tough. But there will be some opportunities. I think our LSM 8 to 10 customers, who usually go overseas for holidays, will stay this year," said Badminton.

He said the tough conditions were reflected in the 26% growth in sales of Pick n Pay's own "value for money" label brands.

The group increased its turnover by 12.3% to R26.6bn during the six months to end-August, compared with same period last year.

Headline earnings per share (100c) were 11.1% higher. Badminton said he would be happy if the group could report 11% growth in full year earnings.

He noted that a number of factors had a significant impact on the earnings growth.

"Importantly, electricity costs soared and look set to escalate further. These costs grew markedly from 3.1% of expenses for the six months ended August 08 to 3.8% of costs for this period. The impact of Eskom's increases is expected to result in a 40% increase in our electricity bill for the full year, with more to come in subsequent years.

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Lose Weight at Work

SHOOT: Some great advice, and it's not rocket-science.
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Just add water. In addition to being your source for scintillating office gossip and banter about last night's episode of Mad Men, the watercooler can help you lose weight. Keeping H20 at the ready will give you something to put in your mouth besides sweets from your neighbor's candy bowl.
Set an exercise meeting. A midday workout keeps your energy up and the pounds down. Protect your exercise time by putting sweat sessions in your calendar just as you would meetings with your most important client.
Bring your own snack. Slip a healthy bite into your tote as you leave the house in morning, and you won't be taunted by that Butterfinger in the vending machine when the afternoon munchies strike. To stay satiated—and sharp—until supper, aim for a bite that contains about 200 calories, some fiber and a smidge of protein, too.
Team-build. Recruit a few like-minded coworkers to get fit with you. You'll foster friendships at the office (always a good thing) while knocking off pounds.
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Hyave you noticed how world stock markets keep getting ahead of themselves?

SHOOT: The fundamentals remain the same. Property markets are dead. Unemployment is a shocker. Manufacturing is flat, retail is flat. Company's fire their staff, giving their balance sheets a nice shine, but otherwise nothing has changed. It does tell you something about companies though. They're addicted to profits, but they're disconnected from real world realities. To keep the game going you have to keep the consumer consuming, and by taking away his job, you also take away his house. And so the cookie crumbles. QED.
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AP - Specialist Damen Watson, right, directs trading at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange ...

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stock markets faltered Wednesday as signs of weakness in the U.S. housing sector tempered optimism about better-than-expected company earnings.

Asia's modest fall followed losses on Wall Street after the government said applications for home building permits slipped in September by the largest amount in five months while construction of new homes and apartments was weaker than anticipated.

The figures were a discouraging signal for future construction in the world's largest economy and diluted the enthusiasm generated by a string of improved quarterly results from U.S. corporate heavyweights.

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