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Archive for January 5th, 2009

The official Herald newspaper said that Mugabe, who has held power since 1980, was moving toward the “early realization” of a new government to end a months long power vacuum.

Posted by African Press International on January 5, 2009

Zimbabwe media: Mugabe set to form government

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader has insisted that he will not become prime minister in a government of national unity until disagreements are settled.

There were signs Saturday that President Robert Mugabe would press ahead regardless.

The official Herald newspaper said that Mugabe, who has held power since 1980, was moving toward the “early realization” of a new government to end a months long power vacuum.

“President Mugabe has already started preparing an administration,” the paper quoted government spokesman George Charamba as saying.

A power-sharing accord reached last September designated Mugabe as president and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister. Tsvangirai narrowly won the first round of presidential elections but refused to take part in a runoff because of violence against his supporters.

The accord has not been implemented because of disagreement on Cabinet posts.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change is angry that Mugabe has earmarked all the key ministries for his party.

It is holding out for control of the Home Affairs ministry – saying this is necessary to stop police violence against opposition supporters – and has rejected a proposal by mediators to split control of the ministry.

In a letter to Mugabe, Tsvangirai said it was “presumptuous” to conclude that his party accepted the allocation of ministers decided on by Mugabe.

Tsvangirai also told Mugabe that he would not agree to be sworn in as prime minister until parliament has passed a constitutional amendment providing for the new position and defining its responsibilities.

Tsvangirai has been out of Zimbabwe for weeks. He previously said he couldn’t return home because authorities hadn’t given him a new passport. After a long delay, he received one in late December and said he planned to go back early this month.

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Senegalese children poisoned

Posted by African Press International on January 5, 2009

Lead from car batteries poisons

children in Senegalese town

THIAROYE SUR MER, Senegal First it took the animals. Goats fell silent and refused to stand up. Chickens died in handfuls, then en masse.

Then the little children started to wither and die.

The mysterious illness killed 18 children in this town on the fringes of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, before anyone in the outside world investigated. But medical experts did not find malaria or polio or AIDS, or any of the diseases that typically kill the poor of Africa.

They found lead.

The dirt here is laced with lead left over from years of extracting it from old car batteries. So when the price of lead quadrupled over five years, residents started digging up the earth to get at it. The World Health Organization says the area is still severely contaminated, 10 months after a government cleanup.

The tragedy of Thiaroye Sur Mer gives a glimpse at how the globalization of a modern tool the car battery can wreak havoc in the developing world.

As the demand for cars has increased, especially in China and India, so has the demand for lead-acid car batteries. About 70 percent of the lead manufactured worldwide goes into car batteries.

Manufacturing and recycling of these batteries have moved mostly to the Third World. In 2005 and 2006, lead poisoning involving batteries was reported in China. And in the Vietnamese village of Dong Mai, lead smelting left 500 people with chronic illnesses and 25 children with brain damage, according to San Francisco-based OK International, which works on environmental standards for battery manufacturing.

Most U.S. states require anyone who sells lead-acid batteries to collect spent ones and ship them to recycling plants licensed and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

For years, blacksmiths in Thiaroye Sur Mer extracted lead from car batteries and remolded it into weights for fishing nets. It’s a dangerous, messy process in which workers crack open the batteries with a hatchet and pull small pieces of lead out of skin-burning acid. The work left the dirt of Thiaroye dense with small lead particles.

When the price of lead climbed, traders from India offered to buy bits of lead for 60 cents a kilogram (2.2 pounds), said Coumba Diaw, a mother of two.

So she dug up dirt and sifted out the lead. It took an hour to make what she did in a day of selling vegetables. She kept her two daughters nearby as she worked.

Women all over the neighborhood did the same, creating dust clouds of lead. Then the sicknesses started. The deaths came, one after another, from October 2007 through March.


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The French are talking to the Guinea junta leaders

Posted by African Press International on January 5, 2009

Top French diplomat in Guinea to meet junta leaders

Joyandet was met at the Conakry airport by General Mamadouba Toto Camara, the number two of the military junta which took control of the mineral-rich west African state hours after the death of veteran dictator Lansana Conte.

Joyandet told journalists his two-day visit was to show that France, Guinea’s former colonial power, was by its side “in difficult times”.

“I will meet with the officials and the leaders of the country to examine the situation and to give the recommendations of the international community and France in the interest of Guinea and its people,” he said.

Joyandet will meet with junta officials Saturday evening and is due to give a press conference on Sunday.

A statement from his ministry said he will reiterate France’s appeal that Guinea hold elections by the first half of 2009.

Junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara took power a day after Conte, who had ruled Guinea with an iron fist since 1984, died at the age of 74.

The coup has been internationally condemned, with the African Union announcing Monday it was suspending Guinea’s membership.

The coup leaders have called for international understanding regarding the situation and have pledged to hold elections in December 2010 when Conte’s mandate would have expired.


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Posted by African Press International on January 5, 2009

Why learning English by reading about it in Portuguese isnt effective (andvice-versa!)

This is a link to an articleon an Brazilian blog about English, shared with me by a Brazilian student. Often when I mention that Im an English teacher, people ask me how many languages I know, or how its possible to teach English to a multilingual classroom. This article is a clear, concise argument for using monolingual material to study a language rather than reading about the target language in your own language, but instead, achieving fluency by training your brain to figure out both new grammar rules and new patterns and vocabulary acquired by reading the material in the target language.

I like how the article points out that the mother language is not lost in this process, but, instead, plays an important role in helping the learner understand new patterns and structures. I know I gained a greater knowledge of English vocabulary and grammatical structures when I learned Italian (English is based partially in Latin, so learning a Latin language helped me learn a lot about my own language).

I always try to emphasize to my students the importance of thinkingin English, not translating word-for-word to their mother tongue. Its for this reason, which I believe is supported by the article, that I throw markers at my students if I catch them speaking their mother language in the English classroom. Its not at all because I think English is superior (I think the Romance languages are more beautifully sounding, and the Asian languages are more beautifully written anyway), but its because I dont want them to waste their money and time by coming all the way to Boston to think and talk about English in Portuguese.

So, in light of this, can anyone help me find any monolingual material to help me learn Portuguese?

By.dannisima, source.dannisimablog

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Powerlifting is different from Olympic weightlifting and is composed of three events: bench press, squat and deadlift

Posted by African Press International on January 5, 2009

Karnes City power lifter a hometown hero

KARNES CITY Dustin Witte readily admits that he’s competitive by nature, always setting his goals high.

These days, that’s a little under a ton.

I’m actually going to shoot for 1,840 pounds this year, said Witte, a 20-year-old powerlifter from Karnes City, who hopes to achieve the weight goal this year. It’s going to be a little more difficult.

A junior animal science major at Texas A&M, Witte is something of a hometown hero in Karnes City, where people buzzed with excitement in September when he placed fifth in the world at an international powerlifting competition.

A total of 32 countries participated in the International Powerlifting Federation’s World Championship, where Witte said the experience of representing his country on the award podium left him speechless.

Powerlifting is different from Olympic weightlifting and is composed of three events: bench press, squat and deadlift, a move in which the athlete bends down to lift a weighted barbell; the athlete returns to a standing position with his arms extended toward the ground.

Witte placed fifth in the world in his 181-pound weight class, and won gold for his deadlift in South Africa, which was his personal best at 672 pounds. His fifth-place finish combines the poundage of his deadlift, bench press (his personal best is 369 pounds) and squat, another personal record for him of 644 pounds.

His current personal best is 1,625 pounds for his 181-pound weight class, although he’s moving up a weight class, to 198 pounds, so that he can aim to lift 1,840 pounds.

To this end, Witte said he is on a special diet: one large pepperoni pizza for lunch, and two cheeseburgers, two orders of tater tots and two sodas for dinner.

Witte said he began powerlifting during his junior year of high school to compensate for injuries and boost his performance in football, a sport he played throughout high school. But after a while, he said his competitive nature compelled him to dedicate more time to powerlifting.

At first I just did it to get strong, but then I did it to get first (place), a smiling Witte said of his evolution from linebacker to powerlifter. He would spend three hours after school working out in the gym, go home and return in the evenings for more practice.

I lived in the gym, he said.

Witte was born to be a powerlifter, said Karnes City High School powerlifting coach Charles Hoffman, who coached Witte in high school. Not only does Witte have an incredible work ethic, Hoffman said, but he also has the right body type: not very tall but with strong legs.

He’s the best we’ve had come from here, Hoffman said, adding that Witte stands as an inspiration for the high school’s current powerlifting team. It shows them that someone from Karnes City can succeed in the sport and even continue beyond high school, into college and beyond, he said.

Witte’s success has been something the 3,300 people in Karnes City have become excited about, said Mark Witte, Dustin Witte’s father.

Mark Witte, along with his wife Debbie, journeyed to South Africa to see their son compete on an international stage. Both said they never dreamed they’d go to South Africa to see their son represent his country as an athlete.

People at church, on the streets, in the stores, just about everyone would come up and congratulate us, Mark Witte said about the September competition. It seemed like the whole town had thrown their support behind his son’s powerlifting.

There were even those who thought we ought to have a parade you never see that here, he said.


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Aristocrat Claus Von Stauffenberg was a career military officer proudly wearing the German Army uniform long before Hitler came to power.

Posted by African Press International on January 5, 2009

In 1944, as the tide was turning against Nazi forces in World War II, a group of German Army officers conspired to assassinate Adolf Hitler and end the war. They almost succeeded. The “July 20 plot” has been the subject for several films including the latest starring Tom Cruise.

Aristocrat Claus Von Stauffenberg was a career military officer proudly wearing the German Army uniform long before Hitler came to power. Severely injured on the battlefield in North Africa in 1943 he returned to Berlin to discover he was not alone in believing that ‘Der Fuehrer’ must be stopped.

Detection meant death, but they went ahead with a plan to blow up Hitler and his top generals. Stauffenberg, a trusted senior staff officer, would carry the bomb into the bunker.

Tom Cruise stars as Claus Von Stauffenberg. “I read the script and thought this is an incredible suspense thriller. I put it down and said ‘is this really true? Did this really happen?’ I found out that, actually, these events and certain parts of the film where you think it’s going to be a movie ‘convention,’ they actually occurred,” he says. “When Claus Von Stauffenberg goes to meet Hitler at the Berghof the day after D-Day to get Hitler to sign the Valkyrie order I thought ‘well, that’s a cool moment, but it has to be a movie convention.’ When you look at it these events actually occurred. That is exactly what he did. The meeting where Hitler comes and touches his arm and looks at him it’s documented that that actually occurred.”

Key scenes of the film were shot at the actual locations of the true events in Germany where Cruise’s casting became a subject of controversy. Press reports detailed protests against his personal belief in Scientology, but Cruise dismisses those as blown out of proportion. “You look at the stuff in Germany and it’s a great headline; but, like the film, it is not everyone. We had an outpouring of warmth and excitement about the film and about me and my family being there. We had a great experience in Berlin. The government partially financed the film and at the end of the film I received a wonderful award called a ‘Bambi’ for courage in bringing the story to the screen. I think that it’s been misrepresented in the press in that way also because we had a great time,” he says.

Director Bryan Singer says the script, by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander, was meticulously researched and that attention to authentic detail continued through the entire production. Singer also acknowledges that it may be a challenge for audiences to understand that these characters in German military uniforms are the ‘good guys’ of this World War II story.

I think people are always ready to see the human-ness in anyone, in any character, if it’s a good film. The difference here is that we have German soldiers who are not Nazis. They are not members of the Nazi party. They are fighting for the German army. Those two things were quite separate. They blurred as the war went on, but initially they were quite separate; and these German soldiers are trying to kill Hitler. They are trying to kill Nazism. They are trying to bring it down. So this is not a movie about a sympathetic Nazi,” says the director.

Kenneth Branagh portrays one of the highest-ranking conspirators, Major-General Henning von Tresckow; and Branagh says these soldiers knew history would be unforgiving if they did not take action to stop a leader whom they knew was wrong. “I think the film doesn’t necessarily ask for sympathy. I think it tries to tell a story and lets the audience make up their own minds and respond with their own hearts if they choose to. I think it’s one of the things that makes it a knotty, interesting and fascinating, to my mind, story of how powerfully they believed – as late in the day as it seemed to be – that it was fundamentally important that, even if, as most of them knew, they were doomed to fail, the important thing was that an attempt had been made at that kind of level that could tell the world, generations to come, that we were not all like him,” he says.

On July 20, 1944, Stauffenberg slipped a bomb into the ‘Wolf’s Lair’ where Hitler was being briefed on the war’s progress. It exploded, but failed to kill any of the top Nazi leaders who were there. Stauffenberg was among 200 people executed for their involvement in the plot. The international cast of “Valkyrie” also features Terence Stamp, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten and Thomas Kretschmann.


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