Archive for April, 2009

Swine Fever

Here is Ron Paul’s view – And he is a physician!

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Swine Flu

The following article has been written by an Afrikaans friend of mine, Marie-Louise Oosthuysen de Gutierrez, who lives with her family on the outskirts of Mexico City.

She has researched her material well, and reading the entire article will possibly save your life. Over to you, Marilou…

Influenza Outbreak with Pandemic Implications, subtitled: How to Stay Healthy during an Influenza Outbreak. A summary of the 2009 influenza outbreak in Mexico City and notes on which vitamins, mineral, herbs, and spices are best and worst when faced with an influenza virus to which we have no resistance.

Mexico is frightened, and angry … Mexico City with its 20 million inhabitants, appears to be ground zero for potentially the next influenza pandemic! This new influenza (also called swine flu) is a genetic mix of pig, bird, and human viruses, and this hybrid has epidemiologists deeply concerned (I’d say!!). The anger is based in the fact that the government viewed the growing flu caseload as normal, at a time of year when flu outbreaks should be decreasing, not increasing. President Felipe Calderon said that the Ministry of Health only discovered the nature of the virus late Thursday (23 April 2009). The World Health Organization (WHO) are set to meet today (Saturday, 25 April 2009) to consider whether an international public health emergency should be declared, which would include travel advisories, trade restrictions, and border closures. A decision has not yet been made.

According to Mexico’s Secretary of Health, Jose Angel Cordova, 68 people (20 confirmed and 48 in the process of being confirmed) have died and 1004 (1034 in total) more cases have been indentified nationwide, of which 24 new suspected cases were reported on Saturday (25 April) alone. The deaths have occurred in at least four different regions throughout Mexico (in 6-14 of the 32 states), with victims who were NOT vulnerable infants and the elderly, but healthy adults between 20-40, and that is particularly worrisome! At least 20 people have been identified with the same strain of influenza in California and Texas (bordering states to Mexico), and now also Kansas, Ohio, and New York in the USA, but thankfully so far no deaths have been reported. No direct contact has been found between the San Diego and San Antonio cases, which suggest that the virus was spread through undiagnosed individuals. Airports around the world are screening passengers from Mexico for symptoms and are ready to quarantine passengers if necessary. {continues on Knol – link below}

Here is the link to the rest of her article, including which foods and medicines to take and to avoid.

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Careful when you ask a black a question…

…you will not get a straightforward reply.

Well in South Africa that is. Before you lambaste me for racialism you should address any ire to Mphuthumi Ntabeni who is a Cape Town based freelance writer. His details are at the bottom.

Here it is in full. And here is the link to the newspaper article. My comments are in [square brackets].

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2009/04/25

THE more I read the survey results, the more I lose trust in their predictions. They daily looked more and more like the ancient practice of reading the bird entrails to predict the future.

Their limitations lie in their inability to comprehend the culture of those they interview. Let me make a short narrative to assist my point.

This week, my friend and I went to his home in Gugulethu, Cape Town. Around the corner from his mother’s place we met up with a friend he had not met in a long time.

“I hear this place is now Cope-ing? Is that right,” asked my friend, slightly in jest, but definitely serious.

“No; what do you mean?” The guy sized up my friend to see which side he was on.

The area, notoriously known as Kakyard Street, [translated: shityard street] was originally a Black Consciousness stronghold, but had, like most black townships, been voting ANC in the past elections.

“I’m Cope-ing chap,” said my friend. “And so was impressed when I read this place was Cope-ing big-time last weekend with Terror.”

Then, and only then, did his friend came out more and go on: “Our problem here is zizikoli (an untranslatable word the meaning of which runs from ‘ unemployed’ to ‘ rogue’).”

I was slightly put off by what he said, but was soon able to understand what he meant.

My friend’s mother stays with relatives: her sister, who has two grown-up daughters aged 28 and 23. At [in] the back flats stays my friend’s unemployed brother, who is 38.

Naturally, the talk gravitated to the elections and my friend’s mother made it clear that, though she’s seeing a lot of things she does not like in the ANC, the party is still her only hope.

She told us how all her life she’d been treated as a domestic servant, and how the ANC gave her dignity back. All of us were touched by her loyalty and respected her decision.

This is how she explained herself: “I’ll vote for what I know, not untested promises. Yenzani nina umhlawumbi nakuhamba nisibonise indlela entsha nathi (Do your thing as you’re doing, perhaps later on you’ll convince us of the new way). I can see Vathiswa and her varsity friends, who are good kids, are following this Cope thing, and I think there must be something to it; unlike Madoda and his friends, who spend most of their time in the back flat smoking dagga, [cannabis] only to come out more convinced that they are ANC members, as if that’s all there is to it.”

I almost said that it was what it amounted to: the black townships have been severed into two, along the lines of progressive versus conservative, traditional, and, sadly, regressive.

[Very important paragraph follows] Coming back to my issue: The crucial error of our opinion surveys is that they do not consider carefully the variants present on the ground. Culturally, for instance, black people will never give you insight to their true thoughts unless they trust you completely (remember my friend’s friend). You’ll not get a straight answer until you first declare your cards. The best you’ll get is the answer they think you are looking for, not what they are actually thinking. All answers are laden with searching undertones and psychological assessment.

These elections in our country cut too close to the bone, dividing sibling from sibling; true allegiances are thus far too sensitive to discuss, even among family members. A stranger [such as a BBC reporter] stands basically no chance of getting to the real truth. Politics in our culture is personal and is associated with many things close to personal identity.

The ANC will still remain a legend even after these elections – albeit a wounded one. But it will never again command unchallengeable support. Many people see its wasting maladies, eating through its moral fibre, even if others do not yet have energy or the desire to go against it. Most people are taking a wait-and-see approach.

There’s something in the formation of Cope that has stirred the South African political mind to deeper reflection. Despite the arguments of those in the ANC in political power now, the cause of the organisation’s maladies do [did] not just lie with one man, Thabo Mbeki. Hence, his removal from the leadership solved nothing. Instead, it brought into focus the real cause, which is the decaying structure of the ANC as a liberation movement.

Everyone knows what’s gone rotten in the South African State, even those who allow wrong and vested habits to get in the way of their reason. Sometimes we see and acknowledge the truth, but our passions drive us to follow the worst course. Unfortunately for us all, we now seem to be under the power of the men of passion and there is very little reason.

The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.

Mphuthumi Ntabeni is a Cape Town- based freelance writer. He is editor of Cope’s website for the Cape Town Metro – http://www.copetown.org. He writes in his personal capacity.

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Labour and the upper classes.

I would consistently vote Labour if I were a multi-millionaire and a member of the upper classes, even though they are increasing taxes for such people.

You may well wonder at this, so I shall tell you how I would think in that position.

First of all, let’s take a quick look at education. If I had children at Eton or Harrow, or even one of the minor “public schools” I would rejoice at the ruination of the governmental school system.

They are turning out hordes of uneducated children. The sort I would need to populate my factories. The criminals would only serve to keep the working classes and most of the middle classes in check by causing them to fear for their lives. My mansion would be in an area well away from these people, and my staff would keep any riff-raff away.

But my children, as they leave school, and then Oxford, would be assured of entering the lower rungs of the ladder that stretches to the boardroom. The higher up the ladder they travel, the less “ordinary people” they will have to rub shoulders with

The people who really succeed in life are the ones who are more healthy. I wouldn’t mind or regret my private health payments because I know my wealth would ensure my family would be well looked after in this area. The government are wasting billions because of their fear of reforming the health service where the manager is king!

The least wealthy are more frightened of hospitals because of the lack of ability of running their business whilst sick or the fear of contacting MRSA and other deadly diseases.

My private BUPA hospital will allow me full phone and fax access, a small desk for my computer, and my secretary would be able to visit at any time. And, I would be in and out much more quickly.

Yes, Labour is kind to the rich and famous. They would have my vote.

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PS Excuse any errors, my proof reader is asleep in bed and I dare not wake her!

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Give Gordon Brown a bloody nose

I am utterly disgusted with the Government’s treatment of the Ghurkas. Like my beloved Zulus, the Ghurkas are, on the one hand, gentle, loveable people, and on the other hand, the fiercest warriors of their region.

They want so much to “serve” that when I was in the Army, they would offer to pay to do our guard duty commitment, just on the off-chance they could apprehend a villain. Woe betide any officer who failed to “advance and be recognised”. In fact the Commanding Officer told us we can swap guard duties with them but we would be in “hot water” if we took money off them for doing so!

If you are a rapist or cold blooded killer, or an expert at swindling the benefits service you are welcomed with open arms. But if you have served our country gallantly and might possibly vote Conservative, you are not welcome.

Let’s give the Government a bloody nose at the next elections. They are the EU elections and it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things who gets in. It is the Commissioners who make their laws, the MEPs just rubber-stamp them.

However, the EU is important to Labour. Winning a majority does matter to these traitors to every semblance of common decency – I refer to their present MPs, not the actual party.

Go and vote, but give your vote to any party other than Labour. If you are, yourself, a died-in-the-wool Labour supporter, still vote for someone else. You can always vote for your party in the “real” elections next year. After all that is the election that matters.

Although I can’t vote Conservative, I swore I would never vote for them again until everyone who voted us into Europe in the mid-seventies are dead and buried, I have an acquaintance who is on the Conservative list who is an out-and-out Libertarian so, in a way, I hope he gets voted in. He is young and we need more Libertarians in Government as they believe in far less interference from the authorities in our lives. I shall vote for the “Jury Team” if there is a candidate in my area as this is the only party who do not believe in the dishonourable “party whip system”. Failing that, any other independent, failing that I shall decide on the day.

And, if you think we can’t have lots of Independents running amok, look at the following council which is extremely successful. Mansfield has thirteen Labour, four LibDems and one Conservative councillors, but 28 Independents!

I think it is important to realise which elections are really important to the way we live our lives. At the bottom of the list are the EU elections as, for reasons already given, it is not the MPs who make the decisions.

Middle of the list are our National Elections. We are in a two party system and, since WW2 we can see that whichever side gets in, very little difference is found. The governing of our lives has slowly ground on to be more and more authoritarian every four years.

The really important decisions, quite frankly, are the local council elections. Getting the right team in will make a difference in our lives. More important than “how they spend our money” is, of course, “how they waste our money”. If we pay £120 a month for our Council Tax and we get value for money in the form of £100 of actual services we are less likely to be as upset as if we paid £120 a month and received services valued at £50. My own Barnet Council, has really shaken themselves up since the last election and I am less likely to complain as much about my tax. Of course I still complain – don’t be daft!

So my message here is quite simple, let’s give Gordon Brown a bloody nose for the EU elections. It will give him the fright of his life and might actually change his ideas. But then “pigs may fly”.

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How to survive the Credit Crunch

Although I understand the heartbreak of people losing their jobs and houses, I can only address this sensitive subject from my own circumstances.

I am approaching seventy years of age and my wife is only a couple of years behind me. We have been a lot more prudent than Gordon Brown, but it isn’t really helping us as the interest from our savings, which augmented our income, has dropped drastically.

We go out for meals a lot less, but to compensate have, on the last Saturday of each month, set up a home meal with the best cuts of meat, the best courses at home, with tablecloths, candels, flowers on the table, subdued lighting and a four course meal. This saves approximately £50 a month. I have bought in special switching which, when I turn off the computers, turns off all the peripherals and bits and pieces. I also have one of these for the home entertainment centre. This saves £132 a year. And ensures that everything is really off each night. The next thing I looked at was software. When I learned that Linux was free, and that there were approximately 20,000 free programs available in OpenSource, I decided to take the plunge. Now I would never go back to Windows even if it were free.

However, before I could push this onto all my friends, I realised that, having been in the computer industry for thirty years, I was extremely computer literate and moving operating systems were not for the light-hearted. But there is now a way, carry on reading…

When investigating Linux I found that there were dozens of “Linux Flavours” so which one to choose was a little off-putting. I then typed in the top names into “Google Trends” as follows: SuSE, Red Hat, Slackware, Ubuntu, and three or four others and looked at the graphs that Google Trends produced. Interest in all but one of the “flavours” seemed to be waning sharply, but the Ubuntu graph was going the other way, up and up. Ubuntu, I thought, would be the one.

And I haven’t looked back. I have to admit that I do not use all the 20,000 programs available, but I have downloaded a couple of dozen of them and, with the couple of dozen “staples” that come with the Ubuntu disk, I now can do everything I want in Ubuntu.

But, something which I consider momentous has occurred. The company behind Ubuntu are now going to start an on-line course for end-users of Ubuntu.

This is going to start in May. The price is reasonable at £31.58 plus VAT. The price indicates they have tightened the price as much as they can so it won’t discourage people from the third world to take part. I will be enrolling on this first course and will write an article on the overall performance of it. Watch this space!

Here is a link for further information of this end users course.

Although, from my previous experience, I have come to realise that Canonical Limited, the company behind Ubuntu, seem to get everything they do pretty right, I need to see the course first hand before I can really recommend my friends to take up this operating system. It is, however, important for the reader to understand exactly why I am being hesitant.

If you took two people who had never seem a computer before, taught one how to use computers with Windows, and the other how to use computers with Ubuntu; at the end of the first month the Ubuntu user would be streets ahead as it is so much easier to understand.

However, if you took a Windows user who had been using Windows for years, and then taught them Ubuntu, it would be a completely different story. And remember, I am old so you can safely assume that my friends are probably from an identical age group! If you bear that in mind, you will understand my hesitancy.

If you are young and still stay with Windows, that’s no problem, You are evidently a lover of all the staff of Microsoft and want to continue to help pay for their high salaries and bonuses. For me, family comes first and I have to plan ahead to get the best for them.

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Barnet Council

First of all a little about Barnet Council. Barnet Council is in North London and is one of the two largest councils in the Greater London area, although parts of it are also in the London Postal District Area.

I live in this catchment and one day I got a letter through the post inviting me to meet the leader, together with a lot of other householders in the area, at a local school hall. My wife and I attended and we were very impressed when we learned that Councillor Mike Freer held two of these a week, progressing through all the wards of the council’s 63 councillors.

At the meeting there was a lady taking notes for Cllr Freer. Everyone asked questions, aired their complaints, and when Cllr Freer couldn’t answer a question he asked the lady to make a note of it and promised to write to all of us again in a week or two with all the answers to our questions. I was impressed, especially when a detailed report came through the post in about ten days.

Fifteen years ago I started up a community newspaper in the ward I used to live in and it is still going strong. I now have plans to start one up in my local ward and was invited to a Civic Meeting last night where I learned of how Barnet Council are trying to liaise with the younger generation by getting involved with “social networking”. They have already joined twitter – and are beginning to get a good following – and, I believe, Facebook.

The main theme of the meeting is that Barnet Council wanted to be proactive, rather than reactive. They actually wanted to search out complaints before things got bad enough for people to actually write in. People are much more likely to have a “moan” in a forum, and the council can pick these things up and put them right before they become a real issue.

We then had a brain storming session where people write ideas of how we could do things; in one example it was how we could make sure that pavings broken by tree roots could be located faster, another on how we can be informed of potholes needing filling., amongst about ten other major topics. One idea was that many cellphones had GPS and the pavement could be photographed around the tree and the GPS co-ordinates taken at the same time. One person had the idea of fixing a camera at the front of the potholes which brought a hoot of laughter. Of course, not all the ideas were practicable but even the non-practical ones might get people thinking along parallel lines. This is what brain-storming is all about.

I purposely haven’t mentioned which party controls Barnet Council because I don’t think these are party ideas. I think they are the ideas of one man, the leader. The attitudes of leaders always flow down the food-chain so the next time a member of staff in any organisation is rude to you, it should give you a very accurate guide as to that organisation’s culture – which always flows from the top. If the management is caring, believe me, it flows down the ladder.

When I contact Barnet Council I began to notice how much more helpful people had become under the new management. Now that I have met Cllr Freer, I understand why.

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