Global Nation Organization

Securing the Future With Love, Hardwork and Integrity

Reading this article sent chills down my spine. The US is heading into a firestorm, which just might result in a revolution. Despite all the noise Obama’s people have been making, by labeling opponents to their agenda as “domestic terrorists”, it has always been clear to me – the union thugs are going to start the war.

George Stephanopoulos reports . . .

Labor Chief to Democratic Opponents of a Public Option: ‘Do So at Your Peril’

September 01, 2009 4:12 PM

As the White House spends the last few days of the recess hammering out a post Labor Day strategy on health care — Will the President lay out his own plan as advised by Bob Dole? Will he launch an all out battle for the public option (even if it is going to lose) as mused about by James Carville? Or is it time for a tactical retreat? — my colleague Teddy Davis reports that Big Labor is not going to make that kind of adjustment easy:

The incoming president of the AFL-CIO threw down the gauntlet Tuesday, warning fellow Democrats to get behind the creation of a government insurance option or face political “peril” in 2010.

“We will continue to push it and say to them: ‘Do so at your peril,” AFL-CIO secretary treasurer Richard Trumka told ABC News. “If you’re not willing to do what you promised to do, you’ll have a tough time convincing our members at election time.”

Asked to elaborate on what kind of “peril” these Democrats would face, Trumka added, “We’re going to tell our members the truth: ‘Who stood with them. Who stood for health insurance reform. Who wanted to make the insurance companies happy versus those who wanted to make Americans healthy. And at election time, I think it will be a tough sell for any politician who is a part of killing health insurance reform to get the support of working Americans.”

Trumka’s remarks, which were made during a pre-Labor Day briefing in Washington, D.C., came exactly two weeks before President Barack Obama is slated to address the AFL-CIO on Sept. 15 at its annual convention in Pittsburgh, Pa. Trumka is expected to be chosen as the labor federation’s new president on Sept. 16.

He will succeed John Sweeney who is stepping down after 15 years at the helm.

Trumka said that a public insurance option is one of three “absolute musts” for the AFL-CIO.

“It’s an absolute must,” said Trumka when asked if the AFL-CIO could compromise on the issue. “We won’t support the bill if it doesn’t have a public option in it.”

“There are three absolute musts,” he added. “You have to have an employer mandate; you can’t tax the benefits of workers to pay for it; and it has to have a public option. Otherwise, you don’t get health insurance reform, you don’t break the stranglehold of the insurance companies, and the system goes on and on and on as it has. Costs go up, quality of care goes down.”

Asked if that means that the AFL-CIO was prepared to work against a bill that does not include a public option, Trumka sidestepped the question, saying, “That means we won’t support the bill if it doesn’t’ have a public option.”

Trumka dismissed the possibility that co-ops could be an acceptable compromise.

“The only other thing we have heard are co-ops which are too weak, not ready for prime time,” said Trumka.

In a post-briefing interview with ABC News, he refrained from stating a position on whether a “public option with a trigger” could be an acceptable compromise.

A public option with a trigger would not come into effect right away. Instead, it would only come into existence after a period of time if private insurance companies did not hold costs in check.

While signaling his willingness to pressure fellow Democrats on health-care reform, Trumka said that President Obama’s allies have found themselves in this position because the GOP has been almost entirely unified in its opposition to Democratic proposals for comprehensive health-care reform.

“The Republicans have said ‘no’ to everything and they still try to pretend that they are bipartisan,” said Trumka. “Their program is: ‘trust the insurance companies and they will do what’s right.’”

Sweeney, the outgoing AFL-CIO president, acknowledged that Obama supporters were out-organized at the start of the August recess.

“We were a little slow in getting into those town-hall meetings,” said Sweeney in an interview. “But we are now far outnumbering opponents of reform.”

Despite the widespread television coverage that opponents of health-care reform have received, Sweeney expressed confidence that Democrats would ultimately rally behind a public option.

“We’re not going to let up,” Sweeney told ABC News.

ABC News’ Elizabeth Gorman contributed to this report.

A couple of weeks ago I watched a report on Plumpy’nut, a solution to childhood malnutrition in a foil pouch It is a mixture of peanut paste, vegetable oil, milk powder, sugar, vitamins and minerals, blended to create a high protein and energy rich food. In the program, a doctor from Medecins Sans Frontieres called it a miracle. I would have to agree. Within two days on Plumpy’nut a child can gain as much as one pound, rejuvenating them and taking them from near death to healthy. An unopened foil pouch is shelf stable for two years. An open pouch needs no refrigeration. Because the food is so energy dense, a child only needs to eat a little to get a lot of nutrition.

The story amazed me, but within the program, they showed the children feeding on Plumpy’nut amidst total squalor. I wondered–what kind of future is waiting for them. The world saves them from infant mortality, only to endure a life of extreme hardship and insurmountable suffering.

Does a humanitarian ever ask the inevitable question: In a world of rising birth rates and declining resources, it is prudent to save every child.

Obviously, no parent would ever want his or her child to be the one to starve. I am not advocating we should let the hungry starve. No, instead I am asking, is the world doing enough to insure those children minds are fed as much as their bellies? Is the world creating opportunity in an ocean of poverty?

That is the next challenge. Hunger solved, now do not leave them idle, for trouble will follow. An educated society is a civil society. Education leads to commerce, commerce leads to jobs, jobs lead to satisfaction. The only thing poverty leads to is an early death, anger and hostility.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to stock up on non-perishable food staples, like flour, corn, rice, and beans. Also, if you have any land stock up on seeds and whatever you would need for a vegetable garden. If this fungus does indeed spread across the globe, it could be disastrous for a few years to come.

—————————————–

Wheat Crop Failures Could be Total, Experts Warn

On top of record-breaking rice prices and corn through the roof on ethanol
demand, wheat is now rusting in the fields across Africa.

Officials fear near total crop losses, and the fungus, known as Ug99, is
spreading.

Wheat prices have been soaring this week on top of already high prices, and
futures contracts spiked, too, on panic buying.

Experts fear the cost of bread could soon follow the path of rice, the price
of which has triggered riots in some countries and prompted countries to cut
off exports.

David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors,
said the deadly fungus, Puccinia graminis, is now spreading through some
areas of the globe where “crop losses are expected to reach 100 percent.”

Losses in Africa are already at 70 percent of the crop, Kotok said.

“The economic losses expected from this fungus are now in the many billions
and growing. Worse, there is an intensifying fear of exacerbated food
shortages in poor and emerging countries of the world,” Kotok told investors
in a research note.

“The ramifications are serious. Food rioting continues to expand around the
world. We saw the most recent in Johannesburg.

“So far this unrest has been directed at rising prices. Actual shortages are
still to come.”

Last month, scientists met in the Middle East to determine measures to track
the progress of “Ug99,” which was first discovered in 1999 in Uganda.

The fungus has spread from its initial outbreak site in Africa to Asia,
including Iran and Pakistan. Spores of the fungus spread with the winds,
according science journal reports.

According to the Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) of the United Nations,
approximately a quarter of the world’s global wheat harvest is currently
threatened by the fungus.

Meanwhile, global wheat stocks are at lows not seen in half a century,
according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientists fear that the spores could spread on the wind and reach the U.S.
and Canada or Europe.

“It will take five to eight years to genetically engineer a resistance,”
said Kotok. “In the interim, U.S. agriculture faces higher risk.”

Kotok is worried that governments around the globe are reacting to the
crisis - which he believes is as big of a threat as bird flu -
inappropriately by artificially lowering the prices of domestic wheat, and
raising export taxes on wheat.

William Gamble, president of Emerging Market Strategies, tells MoneyNews
that artificial mechanisms put in place by governments could be as much to
blame for the crisis as anything.

“Twenty countries have put food in price controls or export restrictions,”
Gamble says.

“Others have restricted futures markets. It is the politicians who are
interfering in the markets to protect themselves, and that causes the
problem.”

Source: http://moneynews.newsmax.com/money/archives/st/2008/4/24/100454.cfm

Toxic Earth

I am not sure how much people understand the problem that is being posed by China’s cavalier attitude to product and environmental safety. If you think the toys your children are playing with are the only threat for toxicity you are wrong. Hidden problems exist.

Exactly what do you think is being done with the millions of tons of toys being recalled from lead and other heavy metal contaminants? I can tell you it will be one of two things. First, the toys will get distributed into countries with no standards for toxicity. Second, the products will be recycled. Now that may sound like a good option, but truthfully, it is not. The recycle process will separate and segregate the various parts for reprocessing. Metal pins and rods will get melted down and reformed. The plastic will get be reground and put back into the raw material supply chain.

The lead in these parts will not disappear by reheating and remolding into a new product.

On the plastic side, it is possible some of the regrind will be used for seemingly inert products, like dimensional plastic lumber. But others will be sold to plastic producers who will make who knows what with them. Most likely a lot of it will get molded into black plastic parts. Why black? Because black is the only color that will mask ALL other colors. I know this because I’m a plastic manufacturer. Internally, we reuse our scrap by regrinding and introducing small amounts back into the production process on certain parts. When making black parts we’ll increase the use of regrind. Because we are selective on the parts we will use our regrind on, we don’t use as much scrap as we make and sell it on the open market. So trust me, this is happening in China too.

The potential for toxicity is still very high and will require even more diligence on companies who are purchasing the finished products to test for heavy metal additives. There are lead test kits that home-owners can purchase, but what about all the other heavy metals such as Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium, and Mercury.

Again this goes back to survival strategy. How will China’s disregard for human and environmental safety affect your personal survival, let alone the human species? This is something each of us needs to address on an individual level before contamination spirals out of control.

Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.

…the number of women abused and even killed by their husbands seemed to be going up and that brutality toward women had become “almost normal.”

…in one town, Shabunda, 70 percent of the women reported being sexually brutalized.

After reading the article below, of which I have selected three quotes above, my entire being tells me to kill the men who are raping all the girls and women in the Congo and across Africa. Just shoot them as you find them. No trial, no jury of their peers; just kill them on the spot.

It seems to me they have failed the ‘human’ fitness test. Savagery is neither animal nor human. It is some other life-form that has no place in society. To the boys and men who have reached this pathologic psychosis of murder and mayhem, life has no meaning. It is as if they are rabid dogs. Kill them because they will surely kill you or me. And for the survivors, round them up and immerse them in an education program that teaches boys and girls how to live with stress of being alive during hardship. A program that teaches respect for a life that is worth living for.

Brutality requires brutal measures.

October 7, 2007

Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

New York Times

BUKAVU, Congo — Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore.

Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.

“We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”

Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.

“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. “The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity — it’s appalling.”

The days of chaos in Congo were supposed to be over. Last year, this country of 66 million people held a historic election that cost $500 million and was intended to end Congo’s various wars and rebellions and its tradition of epically bad government.

But the elections have not unified the country or significantly strengthened the Congolese government’s hand to deal with renegade forces, many of them from outside the country. The justice system and the military still barely function, and United Nations officials say Congolese government troops are among the worst offenders when it comes to rape. Large swaths of the country, especially in the east, remain authority-free zones where civilians are at the mercy of heavily armed groups who have made warfare a livelihood and survive by raiding villages and abducting women for ransom.

According to victims, one of the newest groups to emerge is called the Rastas, a mysterious gang of dreadlocked fugitives who live deep in the forest, wear shiny tracksuits and Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and are notorious for burning babies, kidnapping women and literally chopping up anybody who gets in their way.

United Nations officials said the so-called Rastas were once part of the Hutu militias who fled Rwanda after committing genocide there in 1994, but now it seems they have split off on their own and specialize in freelance cruelty.

Honorata Barinjibanwa, an 18-year-old woman with high cheekbones and downcast eyes, said she was kidnapped from a village that the Rastas raided in April and kept as a sex slave until August. Most of that time she was tied to a tree, and she still has rope marks ringing her delicate neck. The men would untie her for a few hours each day to gang-rape her, she said.

“I’m weak, I’m angry, and I don’t know how to restart my life,” she said from Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where she was taken after her captors freed her.

She is also pregnant.

While rape has always been a weapon of war, researchers say they fear that Congo’s problem has metastasized into a wider social phenomenon.

“It’s gone beyond the conflict,” said Alexandra Bilak, who has studied various armed groups around Bukavu, on the shores of Lake Kivu. She said that the number of women abused and even killed by their husbands seemed to be going up and that brutality toward women had become “almost normal.”

Malteser International, a European aid organization that runs health clinics in eastern Congo, estimates that it will treat 8,000 sexual violence cases this year, compared with 6,338 last year. The organization said that in one town, Shabunda, 70 percent of the women reported being sexually brutalized.

At Panzi Hospital, where Dr. Mukwege performs as many as six rape-related surgeries a day, bed after bed is filled with women lying on their backs, staring at the ceiling, with colostomy bags hanging next to them because of all the internal damage.

“I still have pain and feel chills,” said Kasindi Wabulasa, a patient who was raped in February by five men. The men held an AK-47 rifle to her husband’s chest and made him watch, telling him that if he closed his eyes, they would shoot him. When they were finished, Ms. Wabulasa said, they shot him anyway.

In almost all the reported cases, the culprits are described as young men with guns, and in the deceptively beautiful hills here, there is no shortage of them: poorly paid and often mutinous government soldiers; homegrown militias called the Mai-Mai who slick themselves with oil before marching into battle; members of paramilitary groups originally from Uganda and Rwanda who have destabilized this area over the past 10 years in a quest for gold and all the other riches that can be extracted from Congo’s exploited soil.

The attacks go on despite the presence of the largest United Nations peacekeeping force in the world, with more than 17,000 troops.

Few seem to be spared. Dr. Mukwege said his oldest patient was 75, his youngest 3.

“Some of these girls whose insides have been destroyed are so young that they don’t understand what happened to them,” Dr. Mukwege said. “They ask me if they will ever be able to have children, and it’s hard to look into their eyes.”

No one — doctors, aid workers, Congolese and Western researchers — can explain exactly why this is happening.

“That is the question,” said André Bourque, a Canadian consultant who works with aid groups in eastern Congo. “Sexual violence in Congo reaches a level never reached anywhere else. It is even worse than in Rwanda during the genocide.”

Impunity may be a contributing factor, Mr. Bourque added, saying that very few of the culprits are punished.

Many Congolese aid workers denied that the problem was cultural and insisted that the widespread rapes were not the product of something ingrained in the way men treated women in Congolese society. “If that were the case, this would have showed up long ago,” said Wilhelmine Ntakebuka, who coordinates a sexual violence program in Bukavu.

Instead, she said, the epidemic of rapes seems to have started in the mid-1990s. That coincides with the waves of Hutu militiamen who escaped into Congo’s forests after exterminating 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda’s genocide 13 years ago.

Mr. Holmes said that while government troops might have raped thousands of women, the most vicious attacks had been carried out by Hutu militias.

“These are people who were involved with the genocide and have been psychologically destroyed by it,” he said.

Mr. Bourque called this phenomenon “reversed values” and said it could develop in heavily traumatized areas that had been steeped in conflict for many years, like eastern Congo.

This place, one of the greenest, hilliest and most scenic slices of central Africa, continues to reverberate from the aftershocks of the genocide next door. Take the recent fighting near Bukavu between the Congolese Army and Laurent Nkunda, a dissident general who commands a formidable rebel force. Mr. Nkunda is a Congolese Tutsi who has accused the Congolese Army of supporting Hutu militias, which the army denies. Mr. Nkunda says his rebel force is simply protecting Tutsi civilians from being victimized again.

But his men may be no better.

Willermine Mulihano said she was raped twice — first by Hutu militiamen two years ago and then by Nkunda soldiers in July. Two soldiers held her legs apart, while three others took turns violating her.

“When I think about what happened,” she said, “I feel anxious and brokenhearted.”

She is also lonely. Her husband divorced her after the first rape, saying she was diseased.

In some cases, the attacks are on civilians already caught in the cross-fire between warring groups. In one village near Bukavu where 27 women were raped and 18 civilians killed in May, the attackers left behind a note in broken Swahili telling the villagers that the violence would go on as long as government troops were in the area.

The United Nations peacekeepers here seem to be stepping up efforts to protect women.

Recently, they initiated what they call “night flashes,” in which three truckloads of peacekeepers drive into the bush and keep their headlights on all night as a signal to both civilians and armed groups that the peacekeepers are there. Sometimes, when morning comes, 3,000 villagers are curled up on the ground around them.

But the problem seems bigger than the resources currently devoted to it.

Panzi Hospital has 350 beds, and though a new ward is being built specifically for rape victims, the hospital sends women back to their villages before they have fully recovered because it needs space for the never-ending stream of new arrivals.

Dr. Mukwege, 52, said he remembered the days when Bukavu was known for its stunning lake views and nearby national parks, like Kahuzi-Biega.

“There used to be a lot of gorillas in there,” he said. “But now they’ve been replaced by much more savage beasts.”

Campaign for Real Beauty as part of the Dove Self-Esteem Fund

WORLD, please stop torturing our girls into believing they need to be a certain height, a certain weight; a certain skin color; have certain eye or hair color; wear expensive clothes; or behave like Paris Hilton in order to be appreciated and accepted by society.

Beauty should be valued most when seen from the inside, out. So, get an education, discover the thing that makes you the great person you are inside, and demand the same from others.

The World Health Organization reports that between 100 and 140 million women have suffered some degree of genital mutilation, with each year another 2 million girls fall into risk of being mutilated. That is an enormous number of girls and women. To put it in perspective: there are in total 150 million females in the United States. Personally, I would like to mutilate all the men that think it is okay to deprive a woman of her womanhood, unfortunately that isn’t possible (yet). So instead I will feel outraged, but maybe not entirely powerless.

I ask, what type of culture would allow millions of women to be denied their innate sexual pleasure? Mind you, this is a cultural phenomenon and not strictly guided by religious practice. How awful for the mothers who were forced to suffer life without pleasure only to then watch their own daughters undergo the same indignity. After all, regardless of how bad one’s life is, at the very least we can be assured the sublime pleasure of orgasm. Of course if you are a girl living in a patriarchal society where women are regarded as nothing more than inconvenient baggage, you may have been denied that inalienable right.

Thankfully there is some hope. In this weeks The Economist magazine, there is an article on a surgical procedure that helps restore some sensation to the millions of women who have been denied the pleasure within their bodies. The following is a reprint of that article:

Female genital mutilation

A cut less cruel
Sep 13th 2007 | OUAGADOUGOU
From The Economist print edition

An attempt to restore sexual sensation to women whose genitals have been cut

A QUARTER of a century after the start of campaigns to stop communities from maiming their young women, the practice still goes on. Female genital mutilation, to give it its proper name, ranges from a straightforward nick to the complete excision of the clitoris and labia with the remaining genitals sewn up, leaving only a small opening. It is done for cultural reasons in many African countries but also in Asia and the Middle East. The World Health Organisation estimates that some 3m girls are subjected to the procedure each year and that, in total, between 100m and 140m women have undergone it. But now surgeons are working to repair some of the damage.

Surgery to reopen the vagina and mitigate the medical complications of genital cutting has long been available. But in Burkina Faso, where as many as 75% of women are thought to have had their clitorises cut, a relatively new procedure is being offered. Clitoris-reconstruction surgery aims to restore sexual sensation to women who have been mutilated. A year after it was introduced, more than 100 women have elected to have it performed, according to Michel Akotionga of the Yalgado Ouedraogo University Hospital in Ouagadougou. Unlike surgery to reopen the vagina, which is free in Burkina Faso, clitoris reconstruction costs about $150 in a public hospital and up to $400 in a private clinic.

The technique is possible because most of the clitoris resides inside the female body. In cases where the entire external part has been severed, some 2cm is removed but a further 8-10cm remains embedded internally. Surgeons pull it out and stitch it to the skin. Nerve endings in the new protrusion help to create the secretion and engorgement in the genitals that prepare a woman for sex. Unfortunately the technique used by the Burkinabe doctors does not restore sexual sensation completely, because the pressure-sensitive tip of the clitoris is lost.

Pierre Foldes, who started pioneering the reconstruction method some 25 years ago, has now trained 15 surgeons to use the technique in France. Although he supports efforts to restore sexual sensation, he worries that improperly trained surgeons may cause more damage in attempting to repair mutilated women.

Other health workers fear that families unsure of whether to subject their young women to genital mutilation might go ahead on the grounds that a wrong decision can always be corrected later. While a partial cure is better than nothing, prevention would be best of all.

Of course, I also give you a relevant video which is not on women’s rights, but the right to be a free woman.

What have loans, obesity, and cheap clothing have to do with each other? What could unite such different categories? Nothing, on a first glance. But wait. Wasn’t there the story in the IHT about the mortgage loan crisis, published on 8/28/2007? Quote:

” Other documents from the sub prime unit also show that Countrywide was willing to underwrite loans that left little disposable income for borrowers’ food, clothing and other living expenses.”
 
When I came to Malaysia in 2004, there weren’t many fat people. People were driving mainly old cars, and renting simple houses. Now they are driving big cars, there’s a building boom, and people are getting obese. But salaries didn’t rise that much, neither in middle-class Malaysia, nor in middle-class America. 
 
Where does this apparent wealth come from? It all has to do with loans. Recently, banks started to hand out loans for cars, houses, fridges etc., and down payments are often waved. It triggered an enormous boom in building. There are now many proud home and car owners, but there is a darker side. Like stated in the IHT quote above, credit taking became very easy, and people simply pushed their limits too far. There isn’t enough money and time left for a decent home-cooked good meal, decent clothing, good shoes and a visit to the movie theatre – mortgage and other loans have led to a financial monthly hemorrhage.
 
Instead, as a colleague told me, “people now work a lot harder; there is little time left, such as for home-cooking, what means that one quickly buys some frozen food, which is quickly fried and served.”
 
Or, as described in a recent article of the German newspaper “Der Spiegel,” poor people turn to cheap and fried food, as it provides a lot of calories for little money. Not surprisingly, diabetes II and cancer are on the rise everywhere.
 
If unchecked, whereto will this trend lead? We’ll see many people getting broke, there will be blood on the street, and health maintenance cost and mortality will go up.
 
It’s the bitter price for an unsustainable show-off life style.
 
As a kid, Grandma told me an important lesson. “If you want to buy something, you wait until you can pay for it. Otherwise, it means that you have to work harder all the time, and you’re going to loose your freedom.”
 
Right she was.
 
 
Picture: Statistics showing the fattening of America. It compares the America of 1991 with the America of 2006(from: Der Spiegel). Blue means: less than 20 % obesity in the population. Orange means: above 20 % obese people. Mississipi is the most obese state, with obesity beyond 30 %
 
© 2007 by Franz L. Kessler
 
 
 

During my many extended visits to the African continent, I had a chance to explore and understand the topic a little better.

First of all, there is a deeply entrenched misconception in the western world about Africa: it is often seen as a bleak continent of misery, problems, and diseases and suffering, relying on charity only.

This is far from truth. There is misery, of course, and tremendous suffering; but there is also a vibrant force of life like nowhere else. Nowhere can oneself enjoy life more than in Africa, perhaps – in spontaneous, natural, humorous, sexual and other genuine ways. As someone said, ” Africa is a place where nothing works, but anything can happen.”

In the Congo, life really starts around sunset, when the street cafes and restaurants open. The smoke of grilled fish fills the air. There is beer and life music just everywhere. Most surprising is the cheerful mood that reigns in every corner of town. Everybody is a friend. At some 9 pm the nightclubs open, which comes along with more beer and any possible aspect of commercial sex on offer. Those who haven’t found a partner yet may do so along the road to the hotel or house, in the hotel lobby, even to the point of some gentle knocks at one’s bedroom door.

Sex is openly associated with money. A one-night stand is cheap, and costs less than a meal in a decent restaurant. There are short-term contracts (five minutes, one night, one week), medium-term contracts (a few month), or marriage. The latter carries the highest social prestige, and comes with the traditional blessing of the African family including the ghosts of spiritual ancestors. The others are grudgingly accepted, and require the occasional ransom payment to the girl’s family.

Be it as it may, sex in Africa is predominantly a polygamous, and also polyandrous affair. A rich businessman, or employee with stable income tends to have many partners. Rich female business ladies buy their lovers. I remember the story of a State Oil company employee who had nine wives and 49 children. Another gentleman had 11 children with his wife and another 13 with some nine mistresses.

Sex also occurs a lot during daytime, mostly in government or other offices, with prostitutes signing in as visitors. Sex is simply available 24 hours, 365 days and wherever desired. Sex can even be borrowed – have fun now, leave your driving license, and pay later.

There are also different categories of partners:

  • The wife or wives. There is marriage according to either civil code, church or customary code; adultery (by the wives) is strictly forbidden;
  • The alpha-mistress has almost the same rights as a married wife, and mostly competes with the wives for money and attention; adultery is strongly discouraged;
  • Beta- and Gamma- mistresses are occasional partners that are often shared by a number of male partners; at this point we can speak of a network of sexual relations;
  • Common prostitutes (mostly female); these don’t tend to have long-term partners, but always try to get an upgrade to a level of mistress.

It is the sexual network aspect that is partly to blame for the Aids epidemic in Africa. Condoms are widely shunned. Another factor is the way, in which sexual penetrations are performed. Africa isn’t a rose garden of sweet feelings and romantic ideas. Sex is often carried out in brutal ways, given sex is not only considered a pleasure game, but also an instrument of forceful submission. Sex is a must. Nigeria’s late dictator Abacha is rumored to have died from a heart attack, after having swallowed a week’s dosage of Viagra. Furthermore, there is a whole range of herbal mixtures, with mostly little understood effects that are used to enhance and further stimulate sex drive. In certain tribes, rituals, tattoo and herbs are used to instill a powerful, indomitable sex drive in young boys and girls – at adult age, these require seven or more sexual intercourses per day to feel in the right mood.

Multiple sexual relations are for a wealthy man a status symbol as much as a Mercedes, and the consequences are dramatic. I was told that a leading oil company in the Congo looses eight percent of their qualified local employees every year to Aids.

There is little hope that the situation will improve in the short term. Sex is by far too important in an African man’s life, and condoms aren’t and won’t be popular. The most realistic hope lies in the development of effective and cheap anti-viral creams that would enable women with multiple male sex partners to prevent infection by Aids, an infection that is bound to happen - sooner or later.

© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

The other day while flying through Chicago O’Hare, I heard an announcement over the public message system: “Department of Homeland Security has determined we are in an Orange alert. Any bags left unattended will be removed.” The message, which was broadcast repeatedly every few minutes, was in a very loud and pitchy voice, designed to catch everyone’s attention. Even the most jaded of road warriors such as me, could not help but take notice. It affected me the same way TV or newspaper stories on terrorist (which despite what George Bush wants to believe, does not rhyme with tourist) attacks do. It made me want to spend some time on the gun range.

I know from conversations with people in my personal and Internet life, this is a shared sentiment. Recently though I speculated on just how useful a firearm would be under an actual terrorist attack. Would there be enough time to actually shoot off a few rounds at the perpetrators before they blow themselves as well as others up? So I’ve come up with an additional proposal: Send our pet dogs to bomb-sniffing or biological and chemical-agent-detection school.

You might be thinking, there must be equipment out there already doing this work. Well, you are partially correct. Mechanical detectors are available, capable of detecting biological and chemical agents, but they are very costly and have limitations.

Biological detection systems are currently in the research and early development stages. There are some commercially available devices that have limited utility (responding only to a small number of agents) and are generally high cost items. Because commercially available BW detection systems and/or components exhibit limited utility in detecting and identifying BW agents and are also costly, it is strongly recommended that first responders be very careful when considering a purchase of any device that claims to detect BW agents. This is a very different situation when compared to chemical detection equipment; there are various technologies for detection of chemical agents and toxic industrial materials (TIMs) that can be purchased by the emergency first responder. One reason for the lack of available biological detection equipment is that detection of biological agents requires extremely high sensitivity (because of the very low effective dose needed to cause infection and spread the disease) and an unusually high degree of selectivity (because of the large and diverse biological background in the environment).

Another reason for the lack of biological detection equipment is that biological agents are very complex systems of molecules compared to chemical agents, which makes them much more difficult to identify. For example, Ionization/Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS), an excellent (though expensive) system for collection, detection, and identification of chemical agents, cannot detect or discriminate biological agents in its present form. In fact, the need for high efficiency collection and concentration of the sample, high sensitivities, and high selectivities make all chemical detectors in their current form unusable for biological agent detection.

However, Detection Support Services claims a properly trained bomb dog is considered superior to current machine technology, especially in areas of sensitivity, mobility, and user friendliness (Institute for Biological Detection Systems, 1999). Adding, “Law enforcement and military bomb dogs were in very short supply before the devastating terrorist attack on 11 September 2001. Subsequent to 11 September, the requests for bomb dogs have out stripped all available resources.” Meanwhile there are 73 million pet dogs in the United States, all of which could be pressed into service.

Imagine every time you walk your dog, particularly if you live in an inner city, your pet companion could be on guard duty, helping to save a nation. Or what about those of you, who fly with your little dogs, wouldn’t their bomb sniffing skills make you feel more secure, knowing they would alert you to danger. Better yet, how about putting a trained dog on every flight? Certainly that would be less costly than an Air Marshall. Of course, an Air Marshall could shoot a terrorist dead, but what if they never get a chance to fire off a single round? Wouldn’t a dog on board be a visible cue not just to the passengers, but to terrorists as well? A dog could even work in conjunction with an Air Marshall; as a double team. So instead of just sending our dogs to obedience school, why not also train them in the fine art of bomb or chemical detection.