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"Mining the Pondoland Wild Coast is the moral, cultural and aesthetic equivalent of quarrying Ayers Rock for granite, or the Great Barrier Reef for calcium carbonate." ~Richard Spoor

The Wild Coast is the most beautiful coastline on Earth; and is host to the Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE)... one of 34 internationally recognized biodiversity hotspots on our planet Earth.

This site is essentially a tourism information portal - where local businesses can register and upload their details and photos on the internet for free. Unfortunately, despite the fact that South Africa is a signatory to the Convention on Biodiversity, our government and certain vested interests are flagrantly threatening the PCE with titanium strip mining - and doing everything in their power to pave the way for autocratic control over the mining industry regardless of environmental impact issues.

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence- it is a force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

"Occupants of public offices love power and are prone to abuse it."

~George Washington

SPECIAL ALERT!

Comments due by today !!!

Public Hearings: National Environmental Management Amendment Bill (36-2007)

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism will be conducting public hearings on the National Environmental Management Amendment Bill (36-2007).

Deadline for written submissions: November 2nd, 2007
Public Hearings: November 6th, 2007

Attention:
Ms. Albertina Kakaza
Email: akakaza@parliament.gov.za
Fax: 021 403 2808

Click here to obtain a copy of the Bill.

Contact:
Ms. Albertina Kakaza 021 403 3765

(Note: basically the amendment appears to remove the mining industry from the NEMA (National Environment Management Act) and places overriding authority at the discretion of the minister of minerals and energy. Further, it vitiates environmental controls in favor of the commercial consequences - and allows decisions to be made by any minister or MEC .

Our autocratic demockery:

The level of collusion and deceit we've seen so far between TEM/Xolco and various government departments and state organs leaves me in no uncertainty that the amendments are related to the Xolobeni Mineral Sands application... amongst others.

Comments are due by tomorrow (2 November 2007), and the amendment bill can be downloaded here:

www.environment.co.za

This site was exploited a couple of weeks ago. My own fault, for allowing PHP input. It just never even occurred to me!

Anyway... I took the usual precautions and upgraded everything... but I didn't even notice the ramifications for a couple of weeks more... until I logged out to test a problem that someone reported... and found I couldn't log back in!

The exploit came from a Chinese based IP address; and my paranoid suspicions are that they are the best internet censors in the world... and far too good friends with our government. No matter. I blackholed the entire network block - since the only 2 hits I ever received from there were over the period of the exploit.

That reminds me... it's interesting to note that only about 15% of this site's hits come from outside South Africa. I guess no one is really interested in coming here anymore. What with the crime, and sheer banana republic lunacy. (Telecoms for one thing, corruption for another.) We're the laughing stock of the world... as the only country on the Security Council to have voted against censuring the Burmese junta. Why is that do you imagine? As a supposed liberal country that used to be dominated by an oppressive militaristic police state it strikes me as rather hypocritical. But then many things about this government are - if not hypocritical - then simply downright obscene.

The Transkei has been victim to the policies of the ANC for some time now. People don't realize that my sense of urgency (paranoia) is based on over 13 years of experience with them in this region... and it has been brutal.

Firstly, it was destabilized to rid the area of the influence of Holomisa and the UDM. . . by moving the capital to Bhisho and closing down all the parastatals (like Radio Transkei, Capital Radio, Transkei Airways [my Mom was there from day dot... marketing director, and the woman behind the scenes, if you know what I mean] Magwa Tea, TRACOR, etc, etc, plus the Transkei Defence Force [along with all the APLA & MK cadres Bantu Bonke Holomisa was hosting quite openly - altho he denies it]).

My estimate, including the troops at Umtata & PSJ, is in the region of 65,000 jobs that were lost. Then we were put on tax parity with SA and all the industrial incentives were removed.

RESULT == CHAOS!

Funnily enough, Mandela, on one of his visits to Umtata shortly after that, was caught in Umtata Pharmacy in York Rd. as the only TORNADO in living memory roared through that very street. His body guards fell on top of him, as the ceiling was raised 18 INCHES... but no real damage was sustained apart from some bruising to the remnants of his dignity.

My best friend has got billiary.

Poor Scruffy (not his real name... that's my pet name for him) is in so much pain he can hardly walk at the moment.

We rushed him through to the vet last week - and he curled up in a ball by my feet in the car - directly under the aircon airstream, and hardly even noticed the ride... except to get sick almost immediately... as he /always/ does in the car. The cold air lowered his fever considerably, and by the time we got to the vet I thought I'd been mistaken.

We took him to the state vets, and dear sister Amelia gave him such love and affection... and 8 seperate shots, plus a tasty vitamin drink.

She gave me 8 more syringes to puncture him with the following day.

Shame. He howled like a baby pin cushion.

I dunno though... if he's gonna be alright . . . I mean there was a noticeable improvement by the following day... but it's over a week now and he seems to be deteriorating a bit. We had to cut our usual walk short today because he was hobbling along like a crippled old dog. He's still eating though, which is good, but he doesn't particularly like the chicken livers I'm feeding him.

"The primary experience of Mysticism is direct communion with the unseen, the recognition of the Gods without by the God within, the touching of invisible realities, the passing with opened eyes into the worlds beyond the veil. It substitutes experience for authority, knowledge for faith, and it finds its guarantee in the 'common-sense' of all Mystics, the identity of the experiences of all who traverse the grounds untrodden by the profane." -Annie Besant http://www.theosophical.ca/OnLineDocs.htm

From the Daily Dispatch (12 Oct 2007)

By PIET VAN NIEKERK

THE local subsidiary of an Australian company which plans to mine dunes along the pristine Wild Coast, has asked for an urgent meeting with Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk to discuss his perceived “negative stance” regarding the project.

The request for the meeting comes after Van Schalkwyk told Parliament the proposed mining could affect current eco-tourism activities in the area, as well as conservation initiatives.

The minister, answering questions in Parliament last month, said that mining the 22-kilometre strip at Xolobeni, south of Port Edward, could transform the area which is a significantly threatened asset.

He further said this is an area “which is globally recognised but had a rapidly degrading biodiversity”.

I could be grasping at straws, but there's something interesting I came across in MRC's last quarterly report on their website... Not sure if they have addressed the issue, but if they haven't it may prove bad faith toward the community - especially as we know there hasn't been full consultation, nor negotiation:

Xolco is paying $18mil for their 26% share issue... for the privilege of having their ancestral lands mined... but what is that issue price based on? MRC very glaringly omit that info from the report, but have kindly included the Tormin Mineral Sands Project rationale that for their 50% stake Marodi will pay the subscription price of R5,531,636, which represents 50% of the value expended to date on the Project by MSR plus R2,000,000.

Seems there must be a vulnerability in older versions of Drupal 4.7.x. I'm not exactly certain what happened, but by injecting something into the create user page, someone was able to gain access to UID 1... (the administration account).

Everything is upgraded and back to normal now, but I'm worried about a SSH session that I happened to notice going on with someone in China this morning. I've blackholed that entire network and am running a tripwire for anything suspicious.

This song is dedicated to my good old friend, the media man:

'Cookie Jar' by jack johnson

I would turn on the TV but it's so embarrassing
To see all the other people I don't know what they mean
And it was magic at first when they spoke without sound
But now this world is gonna hurt you better turn that thing down
Turn it around

"It wasn't me", says the boy with the gun
"Sure I pulled the trigger but it needed to be done
Cause life's been killing me ever since it begun
You cant blame me cause I'm too young"

"You can't blame me sure the killer was my son
But I didn't teach him to pull the trigger of the gun

Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Minister Valli Moosa's 2002 Budget Vote Speech

It's not really news, nor yet history, but I hope the sentiments expressed in this speech (full speech link above... excerpted below) are carried through by the SA government.

A lot of people seem intent on a full curriculum revisal to cater for the constructivist learning methodologies which the OLPC embraces -by it's very nature- before embarking on large scale distribution of the "little green machine" to developing countries.

Distributing the XO on a large scale and letting children /discover/ it's potentials is the fundamental first principal of "the vision"; but I agree that it can't be done blind: and it's not.

What few people seem to factor into their thinking -or adoption plans- is that the envisioned economy of scale drives not only the bottom-line pricing of the XO, but also the collaboration, cooperation and creation (on an unprecedented scale) of educational content and workable methodologies.

Even this doesn't scare me too much... yet...:

Chicago Developing 'Suspicious Behavior' Monitoring System

"Over the past few years, Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) has been blanketing the city with a network of thousands of video cameras in an effort to remotely keep track of emergencies in real time. Now, with the help of IBM, the network is getting some smarts. IBM software will analyze the video and ultimately 'recognize suspicious behavior,' says OEMC spokesman Kevin Smith. 'The challenge is going to be teaching computers to recognize the suspicious behavior,' said Smith. 'Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety.'"

"Sony and the University of Alabama are working on a gigapixel resolution camera for improved satellite surveillance. It can see 10-km-square from an altitude of 7.5 kilometres with a resolution better than 50 centimetres per pixel. As well as removing annoying artefacts created by tiling images in Google Earth and similar, it should allow CCTV surveillance of entire cities with one camera. 'The trick is to build an array of light sensitive chips that each record small parts of a larger image and place them at the focal plane of a large multiple-lens system. The camera would have gigapixel resolution, and able to record images at a rate of 4 frames per second. The team suggests that such a camera mounted on an aircraft could provide images of a large city by itself. This would even allow individual vehicles to be monitored without any danger of losing them as they move from one ground level CCTV system to another.'"

Letter to Xolobeni IAPs re Revised Scoping - September 2007 Final

The most significant change in the Revised Environmental Scoping Report is therefore the exclusion of the smelter from the Xolobeni Heavy Mineral Sands Project. This implies that the smelter will no longer be considered as part of the project and will also not be assessed in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The Xolobeni Mineral Sands project is situated approximately 250 km south west of Durban and approximately 60 km south east of Mbizana and 30 km south of Port Edward in the Eastern Cape Province. The prospecting activities undertaken by TEM have indicated the feasibility of mining heavy minerals in the area. In accordance with the requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the regulations promulgated under Section 24 of the National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998) (NEMA), an Environmental Scoping Report was compiled and submitted to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) on 
25 May 2007.

Government eyes out One Laptop per Child

By Alastair Otter
www.tectonic.co.za

The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project got a lot of attention from important government members at the Software Freedom Day celebrations on Saturday.

In this picture we have (left to right) Aslam Rafee, CIO of the SA department of science and technology, Maria Farelo, policy, strategy and regulations office of the government CIO of the department of public service and adminsitration, Karl Fischer, also of DST and the chief Software Freedom Day cheerleader, and Derek Hanekom, deputy minister of science and technology.

Thanks to Dre for this info:

To give a sense of how dramatic the (climatic) changes have been over the last 28 years, the figures below show the minimum ice extent in September 1979, and the situation today (Aug 9, 2007)

The reduction is around 1.2 million square km of ice, a little bit larger than the size of California and Texas combined.

Pasted from <http://www.realclimate.org/

Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri announced that no undersea cable will be allowed to land in SA and provide cheaper broadband unless it is majority owned by local or African investors. It is not clear how this condition squares with the Government's wider commitment to liberalised markets. The move has also prompted Seacom to pull out of building its proposed East African cable and is everything that detractors of the South African Government feared would happen.

The South African move is designed to get EASSy to fall into line with the NEPAD Protocol, of which the South African Government has been the strongest supporter. The industry awaits a final set of guidelines from the Ministry. The South Africans have already led moves behind the scenes to try and get the region's incumbents to withdraw from the EASSy project.

History of Teaching
In a Montessori classroom the child’s freedom, dignity and independence are of paramount importance to allow them to develop as individuals.

There should be a general atmosphere of children doing things for themselves carefully and competently – pouring drinks, washing hands, serving food, carrying their own chairs – and participating in activities that absorb and interest them. With all activities the emphasis is placed on the process being most important rather than the end result being perfect, for this reason the Montessori materials are self-correcting, i.e. the adult doesn’t have to point out a mistake the child can see for themselves and correct it accordingly.

Nasdaq-listed networking giant Cisco Systems has become the first US hi-tech company to sell shares in its business to local black investors. Cisco has shunned the route of equity equivalents, which lets multinationals avoid selling any shares by pumping cash into social development schemes. Instead, Cisco is selling shares in its parent company to the local Lereko consortium, led by Valli Moosa and Popo Molefe.

The price Lereko will pay for its shares has already been fixed, but will be whittled down if the political and business clout of its members opens doors and grows the local subsidiaries above some preset targets. Moosa is a former environmental affairs and tourism minister, while Molefe is a former premier of the North West province and provincial chairman of the African National Congress.

South Africa votes against Microsoft new document file format

(I'm kinda surprised they didn't insist on equity in M$)

Last weekend South Africa voted against a Microsoft proposal to have a new document file format adopted as an international standard. Whatever the outcome of the vote, the process has provided a fascinating insight into the threats facing Microsoft.

If you've used Office 2007, the latest version of Microsoft's hegemonic productivity suite, you'll have noticed that it saves files in a new file format that is incompatible with previous versions of the software. Most users simply regard it as an inconvenience: to send documents to people using older versions of the software, Office 2007 users have to manually specify that documents be saved in Microsoft's previous file format.

Those burning villages in Darfur can now be tracked closely by public satellite. Google's project in Darfur uses its Google Earth project to identify and then illustrate where human rights abuses have been committed.

Satellites first showed their potential as human rights watchdogs when the U.S. State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) started using images from free channels in 2004 to reveal the unfolding violence in Darfur. Before then, such images could only be tracked by military satellites.

But now such tracking has become open to the public. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum teamed up with Google's mapping service in April to track violence in the region. The initiative called 'Crisis in Darfur' lets Internet users look at more than 1,600 destroyed villages and towns in northeast Africa, pictured before and after attacks, and hear testimonies collected by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other groups along the Chad border. According to Google, the programme counts more than 200 million users.

The Kenyan Government is talking up the sale of Telkom Kenya but has so far failed to deliver the difficult bit. Investors will not want to take on the political liability of a making redundant large numbers of the work force. They will expect Government to clear this piece of unfinished business before stepping in with new investment.

Telkom's performance data seen by the Business Daily shows the company incurred losses amounting to $100 million (Sh7 billion) between 2003 and last year. The losses, however, are unlikely to deter interest in the 51 per cent stake on offer because it is part of the data contained in the prospectus being presented to potential partners.

"If the South African Government has this responsibility, why has it not exercised it over Telkom's SAT3 prices? The Department of Communications talks the talk but does not walk the walk."

The sole active supporter of the NEPAD-backed Broadband Infrastructure Project that will never be built, the South African Government is trying to arm-twist EASSy because the project has slipped free of NEPAD control. This is the arrogant display of naked political power that those who have not signed the NEPAD political protocol feared would occur if the larger African brother failed to get its way.

Doctor Daniel Mashao, the chief technology officer at Sita (the South African State Information Technology Agency), announced the launch of the government-wide free and open source programme at the GovTech conference on Thursday.

While many welcomed the February announcement of government's intention to adopt and promote open source software, the subsequent months saw disillusionment within the open source community that very little had actually happened.

Mashao addressed these worries, describing what had been happening behind the scenes and showing a systematic timetable of how this process will indeed be implemented.

Mr M. slapped a pupil in the face at the assembly before close of school yesterday.

I don't know what the kid did to deserve that treatment - but corporal punishment is against the law in this country. And what he did more-or-less constitutes assault, anyway. To the same extent I was assaulted by police in the charge office last year.

He wouldn't have realized that I was watching... while setting up email for a couple of students on the side of the classroom facing the courtyard.

It brings back all sorts of bad memories and I will confront him. He's the authoritarian despot I thought I'd have a problem with. "Yes Teacher!"