archives : Other News 2010


Panafrica - Nigeria - United Kingdom

Blue-eyed blonde Nmachi, whose name means “Beauty of God” in the Nigerian couple’s homeland, has baffled genetics experts because neither Ben nor wife Angela have ANY mixed-race family history. Pale genes skipping generations before cropping up again could have explained the baby’s appearance. Ben also stressed: “My wife is true to me. Even if she hadn’t been, the baby still wouldn’t look like that. “We both just sat there after the birth staring at her for ages – not saying anything.” Doctors at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup – where Angela, from nearby Woolwich, gave birth – have told the parents Nmachi is definitely no albino.

Ben, who came to Britain with his wife five years ago and works for South Eastern Trains, said: “She doesn’t look like an albino child anyway – not like the ones I’ve seen back in Nigeria or in books. She just looks like a healthy white baby.” “But we don’t know of any white ancestry. We wondered if it was a genetic twist. “But even then, what is with the long curly blonde hair?” Professor Bryan Sykes, head of Human Genetics at Oxford University and Britain’s leading expert, yesterday called the birth “extraordinary”. He said: “In mixed race humans, the lighter variant of skin tone may come out in a child – and this can sometimes be startlingly different to the skin of the parents.

- Wednesday 21 July 2010

United States

Late next year, you’ll be able to buy your own flying car — er, "roadable aircraft" — thanks to a thumbs-up from the Federal Aviation Administration. As long as you have $194,000 and a sport pilot license.

See Photo

The agency approved the Transition plane-car this week, giving it a Light Sport Aircraft rating. The test prototype has been flying for about a year, but plane-maker Terrafugia will unveil its production-class plane next month at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual convention in Oshkosh, Wisc.

The Transition drives like a car, uses normal high-octane gasoline, has front-wheel-drive and even comes with airbags. Its fuel economy is about 30 miles per gallon. But unlike your Prius, it can unfold its wings and fly. You’ll only need a one-third of a mile strip for a runway, meaning you could conceivably use your own street. It is powered by a rear propeller and flies about 115 miles per hour.

- Thursday 1 July 2010


The discovery of an AIDS-like virus in koalas is raising newfound fears the animal may soon face extinction. KIDS, or Koala Immune Deficiency Syndrome, decimates the koala’s ability to fight off infection and disease.

Dr. Jon Hanger, the researcher who discovered the virus points out a very sick koala with the sexually transmitted disease Chlamydia, and now her doctors fear she may have developed the retrovirus that causes koala AIDS.

"These ulcers in the mouth are one of the hallmarks of this sort of AIDS condition," Hanger said. "From the patient stand point, it has similarities with human AIDS patients that undergo a prolonged and sad decline."

He says disease now poses as great a risk to these iconic marsupials as habitat loss from development, drought and fires. "Even within protected habitat, we’re now understanding that those populations are now not secure, because disease is rife in them. And that they’re not sustainable," he said.

The Australian government estimated in 2006 that koalas numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with some areas of the country experiencing over-population.

But that was before koala AIDS and a devastating drought, and last November, the government adopted a new National Koala Conservation Strategy in order to stabilize and manage the dwindling population.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010

Israel - International

Israel has launched a surveillance satellite that will be used to spy on Iran’s nuclear programme, reports say.

The satellite’s high resolution camera would significantly boost Israel’s intelligence gathering, officials told local media.

Israel’s defence ministry said the Ofek 9 was launched from Palmachim air force base on its south coast near Tel Aviv.

It is one of at least four Israeli spy satellites currently orbiting the Earth.

"This provides Israel with greater operational flexibility, since we now have another set of eyes on a target," Chaim Eshed, the director of Israel’s military space programme, told The Jerusalem Post.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010


A continent away from Kyrgyzstan, Africans like myself cheered this spring as a coalition of opposition groups ousted the country’s dictator, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. "One coconut down, 39 more to harvest!" we shouted. There are at least 40 dictators around the world today, and approximately 1.9 billion people live under the grip of the 23 autocrats on this list alone. There are plenty of coconuts to go around.

The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that the world is in denial. The end of the Cold War was also supposed to be the "End of History" — when democracy swept the world and repression went the way of the dinosaurs. Instead, Freedom House reports that only 60 percent of the world’s countries are democratic — far more than the 28 percent in 1950, but still not much more than a majority. And many of those aren’t real democracies at all, ruled instead by despots in disguise while the world takes their freedom for granted. As for the rest, they’re just left to languish.

Although all dictators are bad in their own way, there’s one insidious aspect of despotism that is most infuriating and galling to me: the disturbing frequency with which many despots, as in Kyrgyzstan, began their careers as erstwhile "freedom fighters" who were supposed to have liberated their people. Back in 2005, Bakiyev rode the crest of the so-called Tulip Revolution to oust the previous dictator. So familiar are Africans with this phenomenon that we have another saying: "We struggle very hard to remove one cockroach from power, and the next rat comes to do the same thing. Haba!" Darn!

I call these revolutionaries-turned-tyrants "crocodile liberators," joining the ranks of other fine specimens: the Swiss bank socialists who force the people to pay for economic losses while stashing personal gains abroad, the quack revolutionaries who betray the ideals that brought them to power, and the briefcase bandits who simply pillage and steal. Here’s my list of the world’s worst dictators.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010

"The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, is, ’What does a woman want?’ "

This was Sigmund Freud’s response in 1925 to a female protégé, Marie Bonaparte, who sought his guidance. Bonaparte, then in her early 40s, suffered in her own words, from "frigidity."

His question is alive today: Last week, a Food and Drug Administration panel reviewed the efficacy and safety of a new drug to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder — lack of sexual desire. (The panel did not recommend approval.) I’ll come back to this in a minute.

- Wednesday 23 June 2010

South africa

South Africa is to investigate allegations that hotels have raised prices to unreasonable levels in a bid to exploit visiting fans during the 2010 World Cup.

The investigation comes a month after it was announced that domestic airlines will face similar scrutiny for alleged price-fixing.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the South African tourism minister, said: "In recent weeks we have noted allegations that accommodation establishments in the tourism industry are not responsible, and are inflating prices excessively.

"Until now, our impression has been that this is not the case, but we believe it should be investigated and the results of the investigation made public."

- Wednesday 24 February 2010

Panafrica - Gabon - Rwanda - France

French President Nicolas Sarkozy heads Wednesday to Gabon and Rwanda in an effort to boost the French presence on the African continent and to seal renewed diplomatic ties with Kigali.

President Sarkozy has different goals for his visits to Gabon and Rwanda, two countries in which France has had long-standing, but bumpy, ties. France’s relationship to Gabon and to its deceased leader, Omar Bongo, have probably been its closest in sub-Saharan Africa. But Paris was accused of meddling in disputed Gabonese elections last year that saw Mr. Bongo’s son Ali elected president.

- Wednesday 24 February 2010

Caribbean islands

Latin American and Caribbean leaders have agreed to create a new regional bloc that excludes the US and Canada.

The announcement came at the close of a two-day summit of 32 leaders in Cancun, Mexico on Tuesday.

The new bloc "must as a priority push for regional integration ... and promote the regional agenda in global meetings," Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, said on Tuesday.

- Wednesday 24 February 2010

Yahoo on Wednesday announced it would be providing integrated Twitter results into its search engine, and that Yahoo users will start seeing this functionality immediately. The company also laid out a brief roadmap for further Twitter integration across the company’s network of Web sites.

The recent addition of Twitter is part of Yahoo’s open strategy, which the company announced in 2008. Yahoo hopes it will help make the new Yahoo homepage and Yahoo Mail an integral part of users’ daily Internet activity.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Yahoo’s plans for Twitter integration:

- Wednesday 24 February 2010

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