A to B in South AfricaDAVID ANSEL
Minibus taxis, or kombis, are the most convenient, speedy, inexpensive public transport in South Africa. However, they are notoriously dangerous. Their boxy shapes hurtle, weave, and squirm along the highways and secondary roads, badboy corpuscles in the nation's arteries.
According to the Automobile Association's statistics, they account for 2-3% of the nation's vehicles but are involved in 17% of the nation's collisions, and with an average of 15 passengers they probably account for a sizable chunk of the 10,000 annual roadway fatalities. High competition, thin profit margins, and an abundance of testosterone drive the situation to its level of extremity. Indeed, the situation is so bad that the Toyota HIACE, a common kombi make, is grimly referred to as High Impact African Culling Equipment.
The degree of decrepitude of these vehicles is frightening. Bald tires are re-grooved, not retreaded--that is, grooves are manually cut into the smooth rubber. Steering wheels are not considered compulsory equipment and are often replaced by vice grips. Seats are worn down to the springs. Yet that's not to say that operators take no pride in their vehicles--they are often adorned with vanity windshield wipers and stickers indicating soccer team loyalties. Kwaito and American R&B are pumped through impressive, often-"borrowed" sound systems. More
The Dog DazeTHOMAS HART
There is an enduring paradigm of journalism (See, Sanitation Engineers, Tabloid Hart is learning a few thangs about this here profession!) that August represents the "dog days." Nothing is going on worth wasting ink on. But newspaper writers and (now) Web writers still do.
I checked the national newspaper of record, THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER, and even they had "filler" stuff like excerpts from Larry Engelmann's celebrity quotes book just out.
Like this from our favorite newspaper: " 'So, have you ever been kissed by a woman before?' That's what figure skater Tonya Harding asked an 81-year-old woman -- after reviving her with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. "
Any time you get a chance to remind folks of Tonya Harding, you know that the trash in "white trash" is still alive, don't ya?.
The Cruelty of Factory FarmsPAUL KAIL
It is an enduring myth that efforts to reduce animal abuse inevitably come into conflict with human needs.
For example, the atrocities that take place in factory farms are assumed to be an inevitable price that we pay for feeding a growing human population.Ý However, far from being necessary to reduce human malnutrition, intensive farming actually increases it.
When animals are kept in factory farms, the grain that they eat could just as well have been used to feed a hungry person.Ý The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC says that it takes three calories of grain to produce a single calorie of meat; less conservative estimates put the ratio as high as nine to one.Ý Two thirds of all grain produced in the US, and one third of all the grain produced worldwide is used to feed livestock, rather than people.
Quite apart from this, factory farms pose very serious ethical problems.Ý In many cases, pigs, calves and chickens are kept in cages so small they cannot even turn round.Ý Even where they have a little more space, the stress caused by overcrowding makes the animals' lives a misery.Ý Undercover work by Gail Eisnitz of the Humane Farming Association has shown that when the animals are killed they are often not stunned properly first, and may be cut up and skinned while they are still alive. More
|DAY ONE: Whether ecologists like it or not - as they drive down the Roman-straight highways of the United States - much of our landscape is man-made as well as man-destroyed, a point made with great subtlety, range and power in Simon Shama's Landscape and Memory which, among other things, carefully charts the impact on our collective consciousness of the first accounts and paintings of the American Rocky Mountains and the forests beyond.
I remember being immensely impressed by the trees and waterfalls of a park outside Seattle but what will remain with me most of all from that trip was the eerie feeling of Meza Verde in the snow. As far as I can remember from my youth there never was snow in the cowboys and indians movies but there it was, a silent, partial explanation of communal demise before the advent of Caucasian marauders.... "The Eco Scale" KEVIN CAREYMore
CARTOONS BY GASPIRTZ: A droll sense of humor, a twist of fate. OLIVER GASPIRTZ.
G21 ASIA: The WTO and its Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have now appeared as the new colonizers in the post-colonial era. The British rulers took forests away from the people through the Forest Act. The multinational corporations are using the WTO to take biodiversity away from the people through patents and IPRs. IPRs are rights to the products of the mind. By treating seeds, plants, genes, cells as human 'inventories', they are being patented, vide the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) of WTO.
A patent is an exclusive right to make, sell and distribute the patented product. Patents on biodiversity imply that corporations, which own patents, get exclusive rights to the production and distribution of seeds, livestock and medicine. This establishes monopolies on food and health, makes it illegal for farmers to save and exchange seed, and prevents decentralised, pluralistic economies for the production of food and medicine. It encourages "biopiracy" or theft of our indigenous knowledge. By the assertion of intellectual property rights, in the form of patents, multinational corporations usurp the country's biological and intellectual wealth without seeking permission from the communities who actually derived and developed this knowledge - this is biopiracy.- "WTO & Biopiracy" RAKESH AGRAWAL More
MY GLASS HOUSE: My e-mail correspondent from my high school days complained that reading this column was like reading a novel "with pages torn out..." I found that an interesting and poignant comment. She was "getting" what many people have missed about this Glass House and my Web project in general ... ROD AMIS "The New Narrative" - More
POWERSSOUND: The distinguished bandleader and arranger Fletcher Henderson was born in 1897. By the 1920s, Henderson led perhaps the most interesting band in jazz. Influenced, as was nearly everyone, by Louis Armstrong, Henderson finally turned out to be known as the brilliant arranger for Benny Goodman's band. His own band had faded in the 1930s and by the end of that decade was a mere shadow of itself, as one observer wrote.
Meanwhile, Henderson hooked up with Goodman around 1935. It was to be the most intriguing collaboration of the era. As talented as Goodman was, one questions if his tremendous success with a band could have occurred without the help of Henderson. These arraignments, 17 in number, prove the aptitude of Henderson and demonstrate the theory that each man benefited from the presence of the other. - "Fletcher Henderson" BOB POWERSMore
RDR 08.21.00:PAUL KAIL rationalizes the Animal Rights debate in "The Cruelty of Factory Farms."
RDR 08.17.00: THOMAS HART gives his views on the Democratic National Convention & Al Gore. "The Circus without The Bread."
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