Cop charged for autoworker’s near-lynching

first_imgFloyd DentDetroit — All too often racist police get away with murder. Brutal physical assaults against people of color go unpunished. Rarely are violent police charged for the crimes they commit, and in most cases they don’t even lose their jobs.Instead, the victims are treated as perpetrators. That’s what happened to Floyd Dent, a 57-year-old African-American Ford worker whose near-murder outside Detroit was seen by millions on video. Their own crimes apparent, cops then concocted evidence to charge Dent with assault, resisting arrest and drug possession.Now that Black Lives Matter has emerged as a powerful, growing movement that won’t back down, the masses in the streets are scoring a few — far too few — victories.Floyd Dent won a small but significant victory against systemic racism in Inkster, Mich., possibly one with historic ramifications, when the state took action against the police.William “Robocop” Melendez, who was seen punching Floyd Dent repeatedly after a traffic stop, was charged by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with one count of assault and one of abuse of a prisoner. These two charges combined carry a maximum 15-year sentence. Before the charges were announced, Melendez was fired by the city of Inkster, where the beating took place. After Worthy’s announcement, Highland Park, where he worked part-time, also relieved him of his duties.Why Melendez is ‘Robocop’The actions taken against Melendez are long overdue. He earned the nickname Robocop during a long, sordid career on Detroit’s force. That’s where his modus operandi was to brutalize and terrorize and then plant “evidence” on and write phony reports about his victims.Melendez fatally shot two African-American men. He finally resigned for filing false documentation after his propensity to lie became scandalous. Nevertheless, Inkster and Highland Park, two majority-Black suburbs of Detroit, hired this brutal cop.Soon after the charges against Melendez were announced, Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost resigned. Like 80 percent of Inkster police, Yost is white. Inkster’s population is 75 percent Black. Before she became Inkster’s top cop, Yost too had a racist reputation in Detroit, where she had testified on behalf of her partner after he killed an unarmed man.The phony drug charges against Dent have now been dropped. A month earlier a judge dropped the other charges after seeing the video. Dent and attorney Greg Rohl are not satisfied with this victory, however, which was only won after hundreds demonstrated and packed the courtroom. Rohl wants the eight white cops who witnessed and participated in the horrific assault to also be charged.The systemic racism of Inkster and Henry FordInkster’s very existence is rooted in racism. In 1917 the Ford Motor Company began construction of the gargantuan River Rouge complex in Dearborn, Mich., where Ford moved its world headquarters soon thereafter. Dearborn was off-limits to Black people, including the many who found jobs at the Rouge plant.Henry Ford promoted segregation by financing the growth and development of adjoining Inkster. Black autoworkers were able to purchase affordable homes, enjoy good city services and live close to the plant. Yet Ford’s “benevolence” was illusory; Black workers were paid $4 a day during the Depression, but $3 were deducted to fund Inkster’s expansion.The Rouge plant itself once employed 100,000 workers, but now there are just over 50,000 hourly Ford workers in the whole country. Plant closings and the elimination of jobs through technology have impoverished Inkster. The state of Michigan seized financial control of the city and dissolved its school district.Police brutality is a huge issue in Inkster. After the Dent case became public, attorney Rohl received over 20 calls alleging mistreatment by the city’s cops. An April 3 march supporting Dent also demanded “Justice for Inkster.”Orville Hubbard, Dearborn’s mayor from 1948-78, was known during his tenure as the most segregationist mayor north of the Mason-Dixon line. Everyone knew his slogan, “Keep Dearborn clean,” really meant keep Dearborn segregated. Today the population of Dearborn is still less than 5 percent African American.However, 40 percent of Dearborn residents are of Middle Eastern descent. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the anti-Islamophobia group Take on Hate sponsored the April 3 march. A contingent of several dozen Arab youth followed the banner of Take on Hate to show solidarity with Dent.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

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Proposal to amend driveway boundary maps is withdrawn in Limerick

first_imgCllr Joe Leddin in Kilteragh with residentsTHE Property Registration Authority of Ireland (PRAI) have withdrawn plans to make amendments to digital maps of homes in Kilteragh, where residents have been told they do not own their driveways.Notification of the error that some of the houses on its digital map of the Dooradoyle estate incorrectly included parking spaces, was lodged with the PRAI last November. Residents were informed earlier this month that the parking spaces would be excluded from the folios “to more accurately reflect the original documents lodged”.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up However, this week the PRAI revealed that they are withdrawing their intention to revise maps to residents’ homes in Kilteragh.In a statement to the Limerick Post, the PRAI explained, “It is clear that a dispute exists in relation to this matter and in accordance with normal practice, in the absence of agreement between the parties or a court order giving direction as to how to proceed, no amendments will be made to the map representation of the relevant boundaries at this time.”Labour councillor Joe Leddin welcomed the PRAI’s decision and said it was a huge relief for stressed and worried home owners.“Now we can focus on having the common area transferred to the management company that represents all home owners. The final resolution will be the council moving to take the estate in charge which will result in the management company no longer required,” said Cllr Leddin.Last week Limerick Post identified property developer Robert Butler as the registered owner of the common areas in three neighbourhoods in Kilteragh. In 2012 NAMA appointed statutory receivers to 15 companies in the Robert Butler group. The group’s development portfolio includes substantial properties in the Shannon Free Zone and the National Technology Park in Limerick.Fine Gael councillor Jim Long has now urged Environment Minister Phil Hogan to step in and clean up the mess regarding ownership of residents’ driveways in Kilteragh estate. Cllr Long wants Minister Hogan to put this matter right for Kilteragh householders in Ardbracken, Clonmore and Glendara.“Someone has to be held accountable. Surely the residents should not be asked to redress this problem. The developer is, I am led to believe in NAMA, this would mean that Nama now hold the common areas under their their remit,” said Cllr Long.“As there would be hundreds of affected householders involved here, there would be no incentive to NAMA to deal with this issue. The cost to them would be huge and would take forever and one day. Under these circumstances I am calling on the Minister for Environment to step into the breach and address this error,” he concluded.When the Limerick Post contacted a media spokesperson for the National Asset Management Agency this week we were told, “My information is that NAMA has no connection to the properties to which you refer.” Celebrating a ground breaking year in music from Limerick Previous articleShannon airport flies in to sponsor Limerick runNext articleGerry is lining up to fill Clem’s political boots in Limerick Alan Jacqueshttp://www.limerickpost.ie Emma Langford shortlisted for RTE Folk Award and playing a LIVE SHOW!!! this Saturday Facebook Advertisement WhatsApp #SaucySoul: Room 58 – ‘Hate To See You Leave’ Email NewsLocal NewsProposal to amend driveway boundary maps is withdrawn in LimerickBy Alan Jacques – May 2, 2014 680 center_img Twitter RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Print TAGSCllr Joe LeddinEnvironment Minister Phil Hogan TDKilteraghLabour PartyMusic LimerickNAMAProperty Registration Authority of Ireland Watch the streamed gig for Fergal Nash album launch #HearThis: New music and video from Limerick rapper Strange Boy Linkedin Labour would put super tax on co-living unitslast_img read more

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More than a courier

first_imgAs cells go, neurons are pretty weird.Most other cells come in spherical blob-like shapes with a central nucleus. Neurons come in a variety of wild and spiky forms, with branching projections sprouting out of their tiny bodies in all directions.Unlike their blobby brethren, neurons have distinct regions. There’s the cell body, home to the nucleus. Then come the axons and dendrites, the signal-carrying and signal-receiving parts of the neuron that send long, spindly arms to form connections, called synapses, with other neurons.Now research led by investigators at Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, a joint department between Harvard Medical School and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, suggests that parts of the neuron are far more complex than once thought.The team’s findings, described Jan. 17 in Nature, add yet another twist in the ever-evolving understanding of the nerve cells that make up our brains.During brain development, a neuron’s projections extend great distances — sometimes many thousands of cell body widths from their nucleus — to form the synaptic connections so critical for brain function.Could being so far from the cell’s command center confer some degree of independence on the nerve cell’s signaling tentacles? Could a neuron’s axon be more than a message dispatcher, carrying nerve impulses from one cell to the next? Could axons, in fact, be making decisions on their own?These are the very questions the team has been probing, and they are already uncovering some surprises.“We are not the first to think that there has to be some autonomy,” said Jeffrey Macklis, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and the Max and Anne Wien Professor of Life Sciences in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and Center for Brain Science. “It would take several hours for a growth cone to signal back to its nucleus for a ‘next command,’ and it has been clear from observing axon growth in the lab that growth cones can move toward targets even if severed from their cell bodies.”All of these observations prompted Macklis and colleagues to wonder whether distinct types of growth cones might exercise distinct autonomy in wiring the brain’s exquisitely complex circuitry.Macklis and colleagues developed new experimental and analytic approaches that allowed them to trace the molecular footprints of activities that occur in the separate regions of the same neuron. The approaches enable researchers to separate the work of axons from the work of cell bodies and in doing so to effectively “audit” what each one is doing during brain development.The greatest surprises came from auditing the neuron’s growth cones — the outermost tips of the axonal tentacles, which develop into the signaling synapses. This portion contained much of the molecular machinery of an independent cell, including proteins involved in growth, metabolism, signaling, and more.This finding, Macklis says, challenges the dogma that the nucleus and cell body are the control centers of the neuron. Instead, it proposes a more intricate web of decision-making and the existence of semi-independent units far from central command.“What our results suggest is that growth cones are capable of taking in information from the outside world, making signaling decisions locally, and functioning semi-autonomously without the cell body,” he said. “It’s a whole new way of thinking about neurons.”The cell body of a neuron has been traditionally thought of as a mainframe computer with axons like copper wires being directed to its synapses. But this new work suggests another model. Macklis proposes that the cell body may be like a server connected to smart PCs that have the capability to interface with the world.This work has important implications regarding both the origin of developmental brain diseases, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and neuropsychiatric diseases, and potentially much more selective routes to therapy for specific brain circuitry and dysfunction.What made the new approach differentPreviously, scientists who wanted to investigate the molecular underpinnings of axon growth had to grow typically mixed populations of neurons in the lab so their axons could be carefully severed from the rest of the cell. However, placing neurons in dishes alters their molecular content and renders them different than neurons in the brain itself. Further, these traditional approaches could not isolate neurons of one specific type from others, thus failing to pinpoint what makes specific brain circuits assemble so precisely in the normal brain and what drives the assembly aberrations seen in disease. The new approach overcomes this hurdle and allows scientists to precision-profile specific types of neurons and their subcompartments directly in the mouse brain.Macklis and his team homed in on so-called callosal projection neurons, which connect the two hemispheres of the brain and enable communication between them. To identify the distinct subcellular parts of these neurons, the team genetically labeled the nuclei or the axons and their growth cones with fluorescent proteins. Next, the researchers separated the axonal growth cones from the neurons’ cell bodies and quantitatively and comprehensively mapped out each part’s proteome and RNA transcripts. To their surprise, the growth cones contained hundreds of unique and highly enriched RNA transcripts and proteins not even detected above noise in the cell body.What’s nextIf borne out in further studies, the findings could upend long-standing dogma in neuroscience, according to the researchers.“What our findings demonstrate is that a neuron, unlike a kidney or liver cell or most cells we think about, doesn’t have a single transcriptome or proteome, but, rather, it has multiple, subcellularly localized transcriptomes and proteomes,” Macklis said.There were also all kinds of other molecules involved in cell maintenance and growth that one would not expect to see in the growth cone. The molecular profile of this growing axon looked more like a self-sufficient cell than a copper wire carrying information from the nucleus.The findings may reshape the way neuroscientists approach the nervous system in the future, propelling them to probe the axon for valuable clues.“We hope that our approaches will spark new avenues for research,” Macklis said. “And that these explorations will yield important insights into processes ranging from neural circuit formation and neuronal wiring and disease to neural regeneration.”Other investigators included Alexandros Poulopoulos, Alexander Murphy, Abdulkadir Ozkan, Patrick Davis, John Hatch, and Rory Kirchner.This article is based on a news story from Harvard Medical School published Feb. 11. The work was supported by the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, Brain Research Foundation Scientific Innovations Award program, National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award (DP1 NS106665), Emily and Robert Pearlstein Fund, and the Max and Anne Wien Professorship, with additional infrastructure support from the NIH (grants NS045523, NS075672, NS049553, and NS041590). Macklis, Poulopoulos, and Murphy have filed a U.S. patent application on growth-cone sorting technology and implications.last_img read more

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Stipends and scholarships available for Vermont Farm Women

first_imgThe Vermont Farm Women’s Fund (VFWF) is offering its next round of grants to help women farmers improve their businesses or become more involved in agricultural policy development. The proposal deadline is May 15, 2010.VFWF will also offer two free workshops – an in person session and another via conference call. These workshops are designed to answer questions and help prospective applicants understand the elements of a successful proposal. Both workshops will be held on April 27, and registration information is available at http://www.uvm.edu/~vfwf(link is external).VFWF provides two kinds of awards: Farm Business Development awards provide support for education and travel related to helping recipients improve some aspect of their business. Leadership Development awards help recipients develop leadership skills and access to opportunities to participate in agricultural policy development. Applicants for either award may request funds to help defray associated travel, childcare, and replacement labor.”The goal of the fund is to help women get the education they need to make their businesses thrive,” says Mary Peabody, a member of the fund’s advisory group. “We are interested in proposals from all quarters of the state and from farm women of all ages and backgrounds.”Farmers have used their awards to help research and develop new products; conduct feasibility studies; and to attend workshops, conferences and classes to learn new marketing, business management and value-added production skills and knowledge.Women account for a growing share of Vermont farmers. The most recent USDA Census of Agriculture showed that the number of female principal farm operators in Vermont increased by 50 percent, from 967 to 1466 between 2002 and 2007. The data also show that women typically operate smaller farms and have lower farm earnings than their male counterparts.  The Vermont Farm Women’s fund was initially established by Vermont author and photographer Peter Miller, who donated a percentage of the sales of his book “Vermont Farm Women,” to the fund. The University of Vermont Extension, through the Women’s AgriculturalNetwork (WAgN), serves as the fiscal agent for the fund and administers the grant award process. A panel of Vermont farm women makes award decisions.Grants are capped at $750. Since its first round of funding in May 2008, the fund has awarded stipends to fifteen women.The deadline for submitting grant applications is May 15, 2010. Visit http://www.uvm.edu/~vfwf(link is external) for more information. Click on the “Upcoming Deadlines and Applications” link on the left to get to the online application form. Or you can request an application package by calling Grant Administrator, Libby McDonald at 802-999-4506.University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.Source: Vermont Farm Women’s Fund.last_img read more

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Top takeaways from Finovate Fall: Digital interactions

first_img 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » Parts one and two of my Finovate Fall recaps focused on ideas intent on upending conventional fintech wisdom, monetizing and digitizing the mortgage process, and helping millennials with investments.Another key focus at the New York convention was on using tools to increase engagement with members in the digital space.Digital activationDigital Onboarding’s company’s name is self-explanatory, although its mission might better be described as digital activation.The Boston startup aims to create active engagement within 60 days of account opening. If there isn’t active engagement within that timeframe, Digital Onboarding claims there’s a high likelihood the account will be unprofitable permanently.last_img read more

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Trinity Hall Lease Extended Without State Approvals

first_imgMIDDLETOWN – The township committee has agreed to allow Trinity Hall girls school to continue using a township-owned site, even though the state has yet to make the final call.The Township Committee on March 30 approved a lease amendment to allow Trinity Hall religion-based all girls private school that for nearly two school years now has been using the township-owned Croydon Hall, 872 Leonardville Road, in the township’s Leonardo section. Trinity Hall continues to be embroiled in a legal battle with area residents objecting to the school’s permanent campus/facility plans and who are challenging the township approval in state Superior Court. The township committee’s actions last month, however, were seemingly done without the expressed approval of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the department’s Green Acres program. Croydon Hall sits on township property that is designated as township park land in its open space inventory, requiring state approval for any non-recreational or conservation use, DEP spokeswoman Caryn Shinske said on April 16. At that point, Shinske said “To date the township has not requested nor has Green Acres approved an extension of the initial lease period.”Township attorney Brian Nelson contradicted that characterization, maintaining the original lease agreement contained a provision for an extension and said there have been conversations with the DEP since that time, believing an additional request was unnecessary. “It depends on who you talk to down there as to what story you get,” Nelson said of DEP officials in Trenton.The school’s lease is set to expire on May 1, after initially given a two-year period, the maximum allowed under Green Acres rules, according to Shinske. The township and the school could seek one six-month extension, “upon showing good cause” for it, Shinske continued.The resolution amending the original lease allows for a two-year time in total, calculating based upon the school’s actual use of the building not on calendar days, given school isn’t in session for summers, holidays and vacation breaks. According to the resolution the lease would extend until May 31, 2016, with an option to renew it for another 365 days or until May 31, 2017, whichever occurs first. The school would pay the township $21,500 a month for the remainder of the lease.On Monday, April 20, Shinske in an email reiterated the DEP’s position that the township hadn’t been in contact with her department on this matter. But the next day, she revised the position, noting Nelson and the township administrator, Anthony Mercantante, “have indicated to us they will be working on a request for an extension with our regulations and we are confident we will reach an agreement within the next few weeks.”Nelson said on April 21 that he and Mercantante “were putting together the documents,” to send to the DEP based upon a conversation they had with the DEP in the week of April 13. He has sent a letter to the DEP’s Jessica Patterson, Bureau of Legal Services and Stewardship for the Green Acre’s program, formally requesting the extension – a full three weeks after the township formally approved the extension.Trinity Hall, a high school that has a Roman Catholic religious-based and academic curriculum, hopes to construct its permanent campus using approximately half of a roughly 67-acre undeveloped and largely wooded property on Chapel Hill Road. The plans have been mired in controversy, while proponents insist this is an appropriate and beneficial use, homeowners in the residential Chapel Hill Road area continue to object, believing a school that may ultimately be able to accommodate as many as 500 students is too intense of a use and poses environmental and traffic concerns.The township planning board, after months of lengthy and at times contentious hearings, denied the application last June. The school appealed to the Superior Court, which struck down a provision of a township ordinance remanding it back to the local board. The board on second blush approved the plans. And now objectors are fighting that approval in Superior Court.Superior Court Judge Paul A. Kapalko, who made the first ruling in this matter last year, is scheduled to hear this on Friday.“This is a girls’ high school we’re talking about,” this week said John Giunco, the lawyer representing Trinity Hall. “This is clearly a beneficial use and one that offers much for the community.”Giunco said he’s had conversations with the DEP over the course of time and believes the extension is justified given the delays caused by the ongoing litigation. “This is a self-imposed hardship, in effect,” on the school by the objectors, he said.Both Nelson and Giunco noted Trinity Hall had made about $300,000 worth of renovations to the existing structure, bringing it up to current use codes and requirements for the township’s aging and underused building.
 “The township pretty firmly believes there is such a significant public benefit for this lease arrangement we believe it’s justifiable to extend the lease,” Nelson said.Ron Gasiorowski, a Red Bank lawyer representing the objectors, said the lease agreement “is really highly unusual,” given how it’s calculated and the township’s failure to obtain state approval.“The town attempted to avoid having the DEP weigh in on this and now they kind of got caught with their hand in the cookie jar,” Gasiorowski alleged. “They should realize the rules apply to everybody.”Trinity Hall is in the process of obtaining final construction approvals for its future construction, Giunco said.– By John BurtonJohn Burton can be reached at [email protected] and 732-219-5788.last_img read more

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Championship round-up: Middlesbrough miss chance to go top and Brighton score 17-second goal

first_img1 Two of the favourites for promotion this season, Derby and Middlesbrough settled for a 1-1 draw after Kike opened the scoring when he latched on to George Friend’s scuffed shot.However, Johnny Russell rescued the hosts on 88 minutes as he drilled home a back-post cross to save Paul Clement’s team from defeat.The goal mean Boro missed the chance to go top but maintained their unbeaten start to the season.Former Premier League sides Blackburn and Cardiff are still looking for their first wins of the season after sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park.Joe Mason opened the scored after only five minutes and that looked to be enough for the Welsh side but Grant Hanley popped up with two minutes remaining to fire home a left footed shot from the edge of the area.Brighton got off to a rapid start when Beram Kayal scored after only 17 seconds – the quickest Championship goal since David Goodwillie in April 2014.However, that was not enough as Jacob Butterfield equalised for the hosts after the break with a powerful finish on the angle.Ipswich were one of only two winners on the night as they beat Burnley 2-0, thanks to second-half strikes from Freddie Sears – who recently signed a new contract with the club – and David McGoldrick.The win maintains the Tractor Boys’ unbeaten start to the season.Daniel Powell’s goal continued Bolton’s miserable start to the Championship season as MK Dons won 1-0 to pick up their second win in three games.  Meanwhile, Rotherham and Preston ended goalless, as did Nottingham Forest and Charlton, in the two other Championship games of the night. Scott Carson last_img read more

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SUPERB LINE-UP OF ENTERTAINMENT AT LETTERKENNY SUPER-PUB SISTER SARA’S

first_imgSister Sara’s continues to produce the goods every weekend, it’s innovative and active management have steadily provided top class entertainment that caters for all ages since taking over the popular venue a few months ago.That has resulted in Sister Sara’s being packed every weekend over the last few months, but management won’t rest on it’s laurels and they’ve produced another great line-up of entertainment.Ray Montana is in the live lounge on Friday night, while resident DJ will have you toe tapping to all your favourites on Saturday night. Between those two gigs, they’ll be live Premiership action on the large screens all weekend.Enjoy the matches and avail of the outstanding drink promotions on offer all weekend.So make sure you start your weekend at Letterkenny super-pub Sister Sara’s.SUPERB LINE-UP OF ENTERTAINMENT AT LETTERKENNY SUPER-PUB SISTER SARA’S was last modified: October 2nd, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Entertainmenthome-page featuresnewsSister Sara’slast_img read more

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100 toys kindly donated to families in need this Christmas

first_imgAlmost 100 toys have been kindly donated by a local business to St Vincent de Paul for Chrismas 2019.Freedom Spinal Health in Letterkenny held their annual appeal day on Friday last, when they accepted toy donations instead of payment for treatments.The toys are then donated to SVP and distributed amongst the local community to families in need. The day was greatly supported by members of the practice and by people in the locality who dropped in to make generous donations.There were also many donations at the Buncrana practice and almost 100 toys in total were collected.Anthony Lavin, Chiropractor and Practice Owner would like to thank all those who donated so generously to make it such a successful and wonderful event. He hopes this will bring festive cheer to many children and their families.100 toys kindly donated to families in need this Christmas was last modified: December 17th, 2019 by Dionne MeehanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:CHristmasdonationdonegalfamilyST VINCENT DE PAULtoyslast_img read more

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South Africa: We Fix

first_imgVictoria Clarke, who was chief communicator for Donald Rumsfeld, the American secretary of defence, has just published a memoir. The title is “Lipstick on a Pig”. Clarke’s message to those of us who toil in the vineyard of public relations is that if the client has a pig of a story to tell, putting lipstick on it won’t make it any prettier or more saleable.Did I mention Clarke is no longer at the Pentagon?At IMC, we don’t use lipstick. At least not on pigs. We don’t have to. For one thing, we have a great story to tell. For another, nobody is pressing us to hide the bits that aren’t so great. We have challenges in this country, serious ones. They are part of the story. We must never deny it.  In a very important way,  they are part of what of makes our story great.‘Getting things fixed’You see, what makes South Africa the amazing place it is is the extraordinary capacity of our people to meet challenges head on and find solutions.If we’re sometimes a little testy with each other, it’s because we’re impatient with those whose sole contribution is to moan about what’s wrong. But we’ve got lots of time for people who are ready to work on the practicalities of getting things fixed.IMC’s US country manager Simon Barber tells me there’s a garage not far from Washington, which advertises its services in a striking way.  The owner has hoisted a seriously wrecked Volkswagen beetle on the top of a telephone pole and on the side of the beetle, he has painted the words We Fix.  The shop lives up to its motto.  Its mechanics do tough jobs well.Everyone here will, I hope, be familiar with our pay off line for South Africa, “alive with possibility”, but what is it that makes the slogan ring true?  What make this one of the most exciting places to be in the world today?By way of at least a partial answer, our country manager proposes another slogan, borrowed from his local garage: “South Africa — We Fix.”‘Finding solutions’South Africans have established a terrific track record of fixing what others have written off as terminally broken and of finding solutions where others have despaired.Few observers really believed that South Africans would come together the way they did in 1994. As the American columnist Roger Cohen wrote in the International Herald Tribune the other day:“That apartheid’s demise would be violent was almost universally accepted. The swimming pools of the white-owned villas in the leafy northern Johannesburg suburbs would run red with blood; the whites would flee; and the African National Congress would wreck the strongest economy by imposing doctrinaire communism.”Didn’t happen. Instead we have representatives from every troubled corner of the planet — from Iraq,  Palestine and Israel, from Northern Ireland to mention just a few – coming to us to see how we pulled off what actually did happenHow did we do it? Oceans of ink has been spent on this topic, but perhaps the best short explanation I’ve seen came from President Mbeki is his speech to parliament  on the tabling on the TRC report in 2003.“At a critical moment in our history,” he said, “we came as a people to the conclusion that we must, together, end the killing. We took the deliberate decision that a violent conflict was not in the interest of our country nor would it solve our problems.“Together we decided that in the search for a solution to our problems, nobody should be demonized or excluded. We agreed that everybody should become part of the solution, whatever the might have done or represented in the past. This related both to the negotiating of the future of our country and working to build the new South Africa we had all negotiated.”In a nutshell, this is the spirit of  “South Africa – We Fix”.Ordinary people  doing extraordinary thingsI wish everyone would drop, once and for all, the word miracle from the lexicon of descriptions for this country’s achievements. It reeks of  low expectations. And it misses the point. South Africans are not miracle people.We’re quite ordinary human beings with an extraordinary diversity of knowledge, wisdom and talent, who makes things work.And the more we’ve been able combine the splendid diversity of our human capital, the better we’ve made things work.Consider our constitution, ten years old this year. Some people still grumble that it’s a hodgepodge of compromises cobbled together to meet a deadline. Depending on where they’re coming from, they wish there had been fewer protections for property rights or that second generation rights to housing, health care, clean water and the like had not been included or that there had been greater recognition of group rights or that we opted for something other than list based proportional representation.But look at the South Africa the constitution has helped build, precisely because it was able to encompass the full diversity of genius in our country.We are today a tolerant and stable society because everyone came away feeling ownership in the result. And we have a strong economy because our leaders knew to the realize the ambitious social agenda we set for ourselves in the constitution, we would have to create the wealth to pay for it. And what helped us create the wealth? Peace, stability and property rights that are just as secure as they are in the US.‘Steadily rising  growth’Ten years ago, how many of you honestly would have thought we’d be sitting here in 2006 with inflation and interests rate at historic lows, enjoying 87 months of steadily rising growth, with our government in a position to launch a massive capital expenditure program while running budget deficits that are the envy of fiscal hawks the world over?Would you have projected that our stock market would have been among the world’s top performer’s in 2005, posted a total return of 47 per cent? Would you have said we’d be attracting more FDI than India?How many of us really foresaw the creativity and energy that our fusion into a new nation would trigger, or it how would take our economy onto a new plane?Our economy is in the midst of an extraordinary tectonic shift. You see it in the retail sales figures, you see in the explosion in new car sales (and traffic jams), you see it the now almost routine windfalls of unforeseen tax revenue.Maybe we have all underestimated our capacity as South Africans to get things fixed. But other are starting to catch on.‘Doing difficult things well’One of IMC’s guests, Roger Bate, a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute has been telling people after touring the country with us last November: “South Africans seem to specialize in doing difficult things well.”Roger was part of  a group of American science writers to take a look at our science and technology.  We called the 10-day tour South African Solutions.  We took our visitors to Anglogold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine. We took them to Sasol. They saw fuel elements for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor being manufactured at Pelindaba. They met AIDS researchers doing groundbreaking work at Chris Hani Baragwanath. They saw state-of-the-art winemaking at Tokara. They went to the opening of the Southern African Large Telescope – and spent the night at the Karoo Hotel in Sutherland, which I have to tell you is not on the typical tourist trail.And that was just the half of it. They met biologists, anthropologists, geneticists, nuclear physicists, software engineers, geologists, hydrologists, and more. And to help put it all in context for them, we took them to Robben Island and Hector Pietersen Memorial and its stunning museum, we showed the high points and the low points of Soweto and we had them stay at bed and breakfasts in Orlando West, where, needless to say,  the hospitality was beyond compare.This group will never think or write about South Africa in the same way after that trip. It was impossible not to come away from those ten days without agreeing with Roger Bate that South Africans do difficult things well.Getting from June 16, 1976 to April 1, 2006 the way we have is no mean feat. It has taken guts, it has taken resourcefulness and a great capacity for lateral thinking, it has taken patience and determination, it has taken teamwork and a talent for human relations. Our politics has not been for amateurs or sissies.Teamwork and collaborationWhile perhaps not in quite the same league of accomplishment, digging gold out of a sliver of a seam three kilometers underground is no mean feat, either.  It too takes guts, resourcefulness and lateral thinking,  patience and determination, and, yes, a great capacity for teamwork and collaboration.  It’s not for amateurs or sissies, either. The pressure down there makes the rock hot to the touch. To cool it at the Mponeng mine, Anglogold Ashanti has had to build the largest snowmaking machine in the world.To anyone here who hasn’t been down one of our deep mines, I strongly recommend it – it’s an outlook changing experience. In every sense, it helps you understand what we’re made of. Let’s say it again. South Africans do difficult things well.Every sort of difficult thing: From building prize-winning catamarans to inventing respirators that may save countless miner’s lives using gold as a catalyst to turn deadly carbon monoxide into CO2.From solving the riddles of a nuclear reactor technology that will reinvent the industry to uncovering the secret lives of dinosaurs from the fossilized residue of the DNA.From designing software that will track down and deter corruption to converting the might of the Congo River into light for a continent.From inventing the world’s first truly economic photovoltaic solar panel to revolutionizing the care and treatment of AIDS patients in resource poor setting by designing new testing equipment and harnessing the Internet for long distance diagnostics and patient monitoring.Most difficult of allAnd yes, we do that most difficult of things. We make great wine. Congratulations to Vergelegen for being named best new world wine of the year by Wine Enthusiast in New York.And let’s not forget great films. Out of South Africans’ wondrous fusion comes Oscar-winner Tsotsi. Tsotsi is a vital window on the South African condition. It reminds us that we still have much to fix. Poverty, crime, disease.  But in its message of redemption, not to mention the enormous talent it puts on display ,  Tsotsi also reminds us, and the world, that we have it in us as South Africans to do the fixing.South Africa. We don’t put lipstick on a pig. We fix.Yvonne Johnstonlast_img read more

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