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Thu, 13 May 2021
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Why Bob Geldof is wrong about Africa

By praising Tony Blair's Gleneagles agreement, celebrity economist shows he knows nothing of the absurdity of aid

Bob Geldof
© Rex Features
Bob Geldof in Ethiopia in 1985
Bob Geldof is a humanitarian activist. He is also an egotist, a celebrity economist, and quite wrong on Africa.

Geldof, the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, sprung to global prominence with his role in Band Aid to raise money for the Ethiopian famine. The single sold nearly 12 million copies; the Live Aid concerts raised £150m. For these efforts Geldof received an honorary knighthood and was elevated to a spokesman for African development.

But the reason for the famine that catapulted him to prominence had less to do with the weather than the Ethiopian government's policy to withhold food shipments to rebel areas and to spend nearly half of its gross domestic product on the military. Aid became a tool of the counter-insurgency strategy, being left to rot or distributed according to political objectives. The same political issues shape African development choices today and these, not external activism on aid, are key to the continent's future.


Social Hysteria: South Dakota school teachers could be allowed to carry guns

Neil Heslin
© Sipa USA/Rex Features
Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was killed in the Newtown massacre, testifies at a Senate hearing on assault weapons, part of a national push for more gun controls.
State votes to allow school districts to decide if they want to arm staff in wake of Newtown shooting massacre

Teachers in schools in South Dakota could be allowed to carry guns after the state voted to allow 152 school districts to decide if they want to arm school staff.

The "school sentinels" bill was introduced after the Newtown shootings in Connecticut. School boards must get approval from local police, and sentinels would have to be trained to carry weapons in the schools. District residents could put the issue to a referendum.

Friday's vote in South Dakota follows a proposal in Georgia to extend the right to carry arms. The Republican-led state house voted 117-56 on Thursday to allow licensed gun owners to take weapons inside some unsecured government buildings where they are currently banned, starting on July 1. They would still be outlawed from college dormitories and sporting events.

Comment: Listen to some interesting fact-based discussion on SOTT Talk Radio regarding Gun Control in the USA: Do Guns Protect Freedoms?


Is it even possible to live a celibate life?

After another sex scandal involving a senior member of the Catholic Church, questions are again being asked about celibacy. Is it realistic for someone to permanently go without sex?

Celibacy does not mean abstinence.

To the purists, celibacy - derived from the Latin for unmarried - means a permanent state of being without sex.

Abstinence can be temporary. And it's possible to be abstinent in a relationship. "True" celibacy means a life without both sex and a spouse or partner. Of course, there are many who give it a looser definition - merely indicating some sort of commitment to be without sex.

The subject is back in the headlines after Cardinal Keith O'Brien admitted that his "sexual conduct" had fallen below the standards expected of him amid allegations of "inappropriate behaviour".

As a Catholic priest he was expected to abstain from all sexual activity and devote himself to God and the Church's followers. Buddhist monks have similar expectation. In both religions, masturbation is regarded as a breach of celibacy.

For non-religious people the institution can be hard to comprehend.

Bad Guys

Egyptian court confirms death sentences on 21 soccer fans

© Reuters
Soccer players try to leave the stadium as chaos erupts at a soccer stadium in Port Said city, in Egypt, February 1, 2012.
Two senior senior police officers also jailed for 15 years for their role in the stadium riot in Port Said in February 2012, in which more than 70 people died; fans rampage in Cairo after verdict.

An Egyptian court confirmed on Saturday death sentences handed down to 21 soccer fans for their role in a stadium riot which killed dozens of people in Port Said last year, a case which has provoked violent protests in the Suez Canal city.

The court also jailed two senior police officers for 15 years for their role in the riot in February 2012, in which more than 70 people died.

Seven of nine police officials on trial were acquitted for their role in the disaster.

Unrest has plagued Port Said since the death sentences were first announced on January 26, with local residents who want the fans spared fighting pitched battles with police. At least eight people have been killed this week, including three policemen.

The case has highlighted worsening law and order in much of Egypt since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

Bizarro Earth

Authorities seize 36 chihuahuas at 2 California homes

Three dozen Chihuahuas, some of them 2-week-old puppies, were seized from two Watsonville residences earlier this week and heading to foster care while waiting for permanent homes.

Officials with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter seized the dogs while executing two search warrants, the first Monday at an apartment on the 100 block of East Beach Street, and the second Tuesday at a relative's house on the 0-to-100 block of Alexander Street, said Todd Stosuy, the shelter's field services manager.

"It's a hoarding case first because not only were animals being hoarded, but also objects and possessions," making it difficult for officials to move through the residences, he said. But they're both breeding situations as well, "because the dogs were indiscriminately breeding in the house."


Manchester police officer shot by fellow officer during college lockdown

A lockdown was issued after a student reported seeing a man with a "handgun protruding out from his waistband" Wednesday afternoon.

About 4,000 people were "under a shelter-in-place emergency," while police searched each classroom.

During the lockdown, a Manchester police officer was shot in the foot. However, he did not shoot himself. It was an accidental discharge by another officer.

About 24 hours after the lockdown was lifted at Manchester Community College, the campus seemcidental discharge by another officer.

After about six hours, the lockdown was lifted after no one with a firearm was located on the campus.

"I wasn't really apprehensive," said student Jonathan Taylor. "I think they got everything under control now."

Some students told Eyewitness News that it was hard to come to Manchester Community College Thursday morning.

"My parents actually had to convince me to come back to school today," said student Diana Dunn.

State police told Eyewitness News even though the possible suspect was never found, it believes the call the agency received on the suspect was believable.

Alarm Clock

Officials: 80 percent of recent New York City high school graduates cannot read

It's an education bombshell.

Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University's community college system.

The number of kids behind the 8-ball is the highest in years, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

When they graduated from city high schools, students in a special remedial program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College couldn't make the grade.

They had to re-learn basic skills - reading, writing and math - first before they could begin college courses.

They are part of a disturbing statistic.

Officials told CBS 2′s Kramer that nearly 80 percent of those who graduate from city high schools arrived at City University's community college system without having mastered the skills to do college-level work.

In sheer numbers it means that nearly 11,000 kids who got diplomas from city high schools needed remedial courses to re-learn the basics.


The tyranny of convenience

© maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com
Our lives are ridiculously convenient in this day and age, and much of the consumer economy seems to be directed at making life 'easier' still. It seems that the more convenient life becomes, the more need there is for more convenience. Anything is possible in this technological age, and if it can't be afforded, then convenient credit can make it happen. There is no reason to wait for anything.

Just like an addict, the modern convenience seeker is rarely aware of the damage that the need to feed the need is causing.

The pursuit of convenience is big business and over the last 60-75 years we have experienced a profound cultural shift towards disposable consumerism. We've been sold the idea that life must be easy, and that the mundane things in life are to be rushed or delegated so that more time is available for enjoying ourselves. For several generations now our culture has been programmed to place an overly high value on convenience, and the flip side of this is that we have grown to loathe inconvenience to such a degree that we now perceive even slight delays in the delivery of convenience as inconveniences.

Who has time for anything to go wrong in our world today?

Our addiction to this complex lifestyle, requiring ever-compounded convenience, is one of the subtlest and most addictive tyrannies of the modern age.


New study shows 59% of "tuna" sold in the U.S. isn't tuna

© tokyofoodcast
This is just the latest revelation in the stealth inflation and food fraud theme I have written about frequently in recent months. The non-profit group Oceana took samples of 1,215 fish sold in the U.S. and genetic tests found that that 59% of those labeled tuna were mislabeled. It seems that "white tuna" should be avoided in particular as "84% of fish samples labeled "white tuna" were actually escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage." Oh and if you live in my hometown of New York City, you should pay particular attention:

Big Apple has big problem with seafood fraud: 94 percent of tuna and more than three quarters of sushi samples in New York City mislabeled.

Of the 142 fish samples collected in New York, 39 percent were mislabeled. New York City led the nation with the highest occurrence of mislabeled salmon as well as the highest amount of fraud among salmon collected from grocery stores and restaurants.

Bizarro Earth

Georgia middle school teacher arrested after student's fatal methadone overdose

A 37-year-old Georgia middle school teacher was arrested Thursday in connection with the overdose death of an 18-year-old high school student. According to Atlanta's WSB-TV Channel 2, Emily Smith, a sixth-grade math teacher at Winder-Barrow Middle School has been arrested and charged with facilitating the sale of the powerful opiate methadone and the tranquilizer Xanax to a teen girl who was found dead in her home the next day of an apparent overdose.

Smith reportedly helped set up the sale of the drugs by way of a series of text and voice communications on her cell phone on February 13, the day before the teenager died.