Friday, August 31, 2012

Siberia to Australia and places in between

" All that was found of her was a tiny piece of her fossilised pinkie finger.
But the DNA of the archaic human girl who lived in Denisova Cave in Siberia more than 30,000 years ago has revealed she probably had dark skin, with brown eyes and brown hair."

Amazing what DNA can tell us.

" In a technical tour de force, researchers have worked out the complete genetic sequence of the girl from a tiny sample of DNA extracted from her bone.
The study suggests the mysterious group of ancient humans to which she belonged, dubbed the Denisovans, were probably few in number but populated a large area of Asia.
It also confirms some of her relatives interbred with the ancestors of Australian Aborigines, and Melanesian people living in Papua New Guinea and other islands today."

There is a problem here in that Australia was probably colonised by Aborigines 60 000 years ago so either the relatives were her ancestors or there has been a lot of people arriving in Australia for a very long time.
" Matthias Meyer, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, said the team's new technique even allowed them to distinguish between the DNA the girl inherited from her father and from her mother.
"This is an extinct genome sequence of unprecedented accuracy," Dr Meyer said."

Not sure how that works if relatives turned up in Australia unless of course they were ancestors and if that was the case why is the geome extinct ?
" The existence of the Denisovans only came to light in 2008, when the finger bone was discovered along with two teeth. They are the first group of extinct humans to be identified solely on the basis of their DNA.
A draft genome was published in 2010 and the new study compares the complete genome with that of the Denisovans' closest relatives, Neanderthals, as well as with 11 modern humans.
The results are published today in the journal Science."

This is all rather confusing  30,000 years ago modern humans were here  and had been for quite a while.
" It shows the girl had genetic variants which are associated in present-day people with brown skin, hair and eyes; and she may have lived as long as 82,000 years ago."

That make more sense from a time line perspective but I would have thought that carbon dating might have come up with a hard number to within a few thousand years at 82,000 that still gives a 22,000 year frame to get to Australia.  

" The team identified more than 100,000 small changes in the human genome which occurred after the split from a common ancestor with the Denisovans.
Svante Paabo, who led the team, said the changes affected genes associated with brain function and nervous-system development, and possibly the skin, eye and teeth."

In other words evolution.
"This research will help determine how it was that modern-human populations came to expand dramatically in size as well as cultural complexity, while archaic humans eventually dwindled in numbers and became extinct," Dr Paabo said.
The study also found that people in Eurasia and native Americans have more Neanderthal DNA than those in Europe, which suggests the theory that modern humans left Africa and interbred with Neanderthals in the Middle East, before spreading around the globe, is too simplistic.

Now if I lived in Siberia I am betting Australia would be a fairly attractive option.

Please explain South African Police & The ANC

Taken in full from the Daily Maverick Read it and weep.

Some of the miners killed in the 16 August massacre at Marikana appear to have been shot at close range or crushed by police vehicles. They were not caught in a fusillade of gunfire from police defending themselves, as the official account would have it. GREG MARINOVICH spent two weeks trying to understand what really happened. What he found was profoundly disturbing.
Of the 34 miners killed at Marikana, no more than a dozen of the dead were captured in news footage shot at the scene. The majority of those who died, according to surviving strikers and researchers, were killed beyond the view of cameras at a nondescript collection of boulders some 300 metres behind Wonderkop.
On one of these rocks, encompassed closely on all sides by solid granite boulders, is the letter ‘N’, the 14th letter of the alphabet. Here, N represents the 14th body of a striking miner to be found by a police forensics team in this isolated place. These letters are used by forensics to detail were the corpses lay.
There is a thick spread of blood deep into the dry soil, showing that N was shot and killed on the spot. There is no trail of blood leading to where N died – the blood saturates one spot only, indicating no further movement. (It would have been outside of the scope of the human body to crawl here bleeding so profusely.)
Approaching N from all possible angles, observing the local geography, it is clear that to shoot N, the shooter would have to be close. Very close, in fact, almost within touching distance. (After having spent days here at the bloody massacre site, it does not take too much imagination for me to believe that N might have begged for his life on that winter afternoon.)

Photo: At sites like 'N', all four sides are hemmed in by rock. (Greg Marinovich)
And on the deadly Thursday afternoon, N’s murderer could only have been a policeman. I say murderer because there is not a single report on an injured policeman from the day. I say murderer because there seems to have been no attempt to uphold our citizens’ right to life and fair recourse to justice. It is hard to imagine that N would have resisted being taken into custody when thus cornered. There is no chance of escape out of a ring of police.
Other letters denote equally morbid scenarios. J and H died alongside each other. They, too, had no route of escape and had to have been shot at close range.
Photo: J and H died alongside each other. (Greg Marinovich)
Other letters mark the rocks nearby. A bloody handprint stains a vertical rock surface where someone tried to support themselves standing up; many other rocks are splattered with blood as miners died on the afternoon of 16 August.
Photo: A bloody handprint stains a vertical rock surface. (Greg Marinovich)
None of these events were witnessed by media or captured on camera. They were only reported on as component parts in the sum of the greater tragedy.
One of the striking miners caught up in the mayhem, let’s call him “Themba”, though his name is known to the Daily Maverick, recalled what he saw once he escaped the killing fields around Wonderkop.
“Most people then called for us to get off the mountain, and as we were coming down, the shooting began. Most people who were shot near the kraal were trying to get into the settlement; the blood we saw is theirs. We ran in the other direction, as it was impossible now to make it through the bullets.
“We ran until we got to the meeting spot and watched the incidents at the koppie. Two helicopters landed; soldiers and police surrounded the area. We never saw anyone coming out of the koppie.”
The soldiers he refers to were, in fact, part of the police task team dressed in camouflage uniforms, brought to the scene in a brown military vehicle. Asked about this, Themba said he believed people were hiding at the koppie, and police went in and killed them.
In the days after the shooting, Themba visited friends at the nearby mine hospital. “Most people who are in hospital were shot at the back. The ones I saw in hospital had clear signs of being run over by the Nyalas,” he said. “I never got to go to the mortuary, but most people who went there told me that they couldn’t recognise the faces of the dead (they were so damaged by either bullets or from being driven over).”
It is becoming clear to this reporter that heavily armed police hunted down and killed the miners in cold blood. A minority were killed in the filmed event where police claim they acted in self-defence. The rest was murder on a massive scale.
Peter Alexander, chair in Social Change and professor of Sociology at the University of Johannesburg, and two researchers interviewed witnesses in the days after the massacre. Researcher Botsong Mmope spoke to a miner, Tsepo, on Monday 20 August. Tsepo (not his real name) witnessed some of the events that occurred off camera.
“Tsepo said many people had been killed at the small koppie and it had never been covered (by the media). He agreed to take us to the small koppie, because that is where many, many people died,” Mmope said.
After the shooting began, Tsepo said, he was among many who ran towards the small koppie. As the police chased them, someone among them said, “Let us lie down, comrades, they will not shoot us then.”
“At that time, there were bullets coming from a helicopter above them. Tsepo then lay down. A number of fellow strikers also lay down. He says he watched Nyalas driving over the prostrate, living miners,” Mmope said. “Other miners ran to the koppie, and that was where they were shot by police and the army** with machine guns.” (** Several witnesses and speakers at the miners' gathering referring to the army, or amajoni, actually refer to a police task team unit in camouflage uniforms and carrying R5 semi-automatic files on the day. – GM)
When the firing finally ceased, Tsepo managed to escape across the veld to the north.
Photo: A map drawn by an eyewitness and a researcher shows the spatial context of the events of August 16, and also the sequence of them. Nkanini, Marikana, North West Province, South Africa,  27 August 2012. (Greg Marinovich)
It took several days for police to release the number of those killed. The number 34 surprised most of us. With only about a dozen bodies recorded by the media, where exactly had the remaining miners been killed, and how did they die?
Most journalists and others did not interrogate this properly. The violence of the deaths we could see, again and again, was enough to contend with. The police certainly did not mention what happened outside of the view of the cameras.
The toll of 112 mineworkers (34 dead and 78 wounded) at Marikana is one of those few bitter moments in our bloody history that has been captured by the unblinking eye of the lens. Several lenses, in fact, and from various viewpoints.
This has allowed the actions and reactions of both the strikers and the police to be scrutinised in ways that undocumented tragedies can never be. Therefore, while the motives and rationale of both parties will never be completely clear, their deeds are quite apparent.  
Thus developed a dominant narrative within the public discourse. The facts have been fed by the police, various state entities and by the media that the strikers provoked their own deaths by charging and shooting at the forces of law and order. Indeed, the various images and footage can be read to support this claim.
The contrary view is that the striking miners were trying to escape police rubber bullets and tear gas when they ran at the heavily armed police task team (our version of SWAT). The result was the horrific images of a dozen or so men gunned down in a fusillade of automatic fire.
From the outside the jumble of granite at Small Koppie, the weathered remains of a prehistoric hill, it would appear that nothing more brutal than the felling of the straggly indigenous trees for firewood occurred here.
Once within the outer perimeter, narrow passages between the weathered bushveld rocks lead into dead ends. Scattered piles of human faeces and toilet paper mark the area as the communal toilet for those in the miners’ shack community without pit toilets.
It is inside here, hidden from casual view, that the rocks bear the yellow letters methodically sprayed on by the forensic team to denote where they found the miners’ bodies. The letter N appears to take the death toll at this site to 14. Some of the other letters are difficult to discern, especially where they were sprayed on the dry grass and sand.
The yellow letters speak as if they are the voices of the dead. The position of the letters, denoting the remains of once sweating, panting, cursing, pleading men, tell a story of policemen hunting men like beasts. They tell of tens of murders at close range, in places hidden from the plain sight.
N, for example, died in a narrow redoubt surrounded on four sides by solid rock. His killer could not have been further than two meters from him – the geography forbids any other possibility.
Why did this happen? 
Photo: A satellite view of Wonderkop, the lighter coloured semi-circle to the lower right, and the Small Koppie, which is the more spread out feature to the left. The informal settlement of Nkaneng is to the far right. (Google Earth.)
Let us look back at the events of Monday, 13 August, three days prior to these events.
Themba, a second-generation miner from the Eastern Cape, was present then too. He was part of a group of some 30 strikers who were delegated to cross the veld that separated them from another Lonmin platinum mine, Karee.
It was at Karee mine that other rock drill operators led a wildcat strike to demand better wages. The National Union of Mineworkers did not support them, and management took a tough line. The strike was unsuccessful, with many of the strikers losing their jobs. The Marikana miners figured there were many miners there still angry enough to join them on Wonderkop.
The Marikana strikers never reached their fellow workers; instead, mine security turned them back and told them to return by a route different from the one they had come by.
On this road, they met a contingent of police. Themba said there were some 10 Nyalas and one or two police trucks or vans. The police barred their way and told them to lay down their weapons. The workers refused, saying they needed the pangas to cut wood, as they lived in the bush, and more honestly, that they were needed to defend themselves.
The Friday before, they said, three of their number had been killed by people wearing red NUM T-shirts.
The police line parted and they were allowed to continue, but once they were about 10 metres past, the police opened fire on them.
The miners turned and took on the police.
It was here, he said, that they killed two policemen and injured another. The police killed two miners and injured a third severely, from helicopter gunfire, Themba said. The miners carried the wounded man back to Wonderkop, where he was taken to hospital in a car. His fate is unknown.
Police spokesman Captain Dennis Adriao, when asked about the incident by telephone, said public order policing officers were attacked by miners, who hacked the two policemen to death and critically injured another. He said eight people had been arrested until then for that incident and for the 10 deaths prior to 16 August. “Two are in custody in hospital who were injured in the attack on the police.”
The police version of how this event took place is quite different from that of Themba, but what is clear is that the police had already arrested people for the murders committed thus far.
Why, then, the urgency to confront those among the thousands camped on Wonderkop in the days leading up to the massacre on 16 August?
But let us, in this article, not get too distracted by this obvious question, and return to the events of 16 August itself.
The South African Government Information website still carries this statement, dated from the day of the Marikana massacre:
“Following extensive and unsuccessful negotiations by SAPS members to disarm and disperse a heavily armed group of illegal gatherers at a hilltop close to Lonmin Mine, near Rustenburg in the North West Province, the South African Police Service was viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms. The Police, in order to protect their own lives and in self-defence, were forced to engage the group with force. This resulted in several individuals being fatally wounded, and others injured.”
This police statement clearly states that the police acted in self-defence, despite the fact that not a single policeman suffered any injury on 16 August.
And as we discussed earlier, it is possible to interpret what happened in the filmed events as an over-reaction by the police to a threat. What happened afterwards, 400 metres away at Small Koppie, is quite different. That police armoured vehicles drove over prostrate miners cannot be described as self-defence or as any kind of public order policing.
The geography of those yellow spray painted letters tells a chilling and damning story and lends greater credence to what the strikers have been saying.
One miner, on the morning after the massacre, told Daily Maverick that, “When one of our miners passed a Nyala, there was a homeboy of his from the Eastern Cape inside, and he told him that today was D-day, that they were to come and shoot. He said there was a paper signed allowing them to shoot us.”
The language reportedly used by the policeman is strikingly similar to that used by Adriao early on 16 August, and quoted on MineWeb: “We have tried over a number of days to negotiate with the leaders and with the gathering here at the mine, our objective is to get the people to surrender their weapons and to disperse peacefully.”
“Today is D-day in terms of if they don't comply then we will have to act ... we will have to take steps,” he said.
A little later he commented: “Today is unfortunately D-day,” police spokesman Dennis Adriao said. “It is an illegal gathering. We've tried to negotiate and we'll try again, but if that fails, we'll obviously have to go to a tactical phase.”
Speaking to the possible intention of the police, let us look at how the deployed police were armed. The weapons used by the majority of the more than 400 police on the scene were R5 (a licensed replica of the Israeli Galil SAR) or LM5 assault rifles, designed for infantry and tactical police use. These weapons cannot fire rubber bullets. The police were clearly deployed in a military manner – to take lives, not to deflect possible riotous behaviour.
The death of their comrades three days previously set the stage for the police, who have been increasingly accused of brutality, torture and death in detention, to exact their revenge. What is unclear is how high up the chain of command this desire went.
There has been police obfuscation and selective silence in a democratic society where the police are, theoretically, accountable to the citizenry, as well as to our elected representatives. We live in a country where people are assumed innocent until proven guilty; where summary executions are not within the police’s discretion.
Let us be under no illusion. The striking miners are no angels. They can be as violent as anyone else in our society. And in an inflamed setting such as at Marikana, probably more so. They are angry, disempowered, feel cheated and want more than a subsistence wage. Whatever the merits of their argument, and the crimes of some individuals among them, more than 3,000 people gathering at Wanderkop did not merit being vulnerable to summary and entirely arbitrary execution at the hands of a paramilitary police unit.
In light of this, we could look at the events of 16 August as the murder of 34 and the attempted murder of a further 78 who survived despite the police’s apparent intention to kill them.
Back at the rocks the locals dubbed Small Koppie, a wild pear flowers among the debris of the carnage and human excrement; a place of horror that has until now remained terra incognita to the public. It could also be the place where the Constitution of South Africa has been dealt a mortal blow. DM
Note: We have put these questions to the police and they state that they are unable to comment on, or give further detail regarding, to what happened at and around Small Koppie 13 August. We are awaiting comment from the IPID.
Read more:
  • “Marikana: What really happened? We may never know,” in the Daily Maverick
  • Police statement on 16 August events.
Main photo: Nkanini, Marikana, North West Province, South Africa,  27 August 2012. Yellow police paint marks where the bodies of some of the 34 men killed by police were recovered by forensics. Some of the rock crevices these bodies were found in, indicate that they had to have been hunted down and shot at close range. At sites like 'N', the copious amount of blood lost makes it plain that it was not a wounded person who managed to crawl there, but was someone shot and killed in that position, where all four sides are hemmed in by rock. Not a single policeman was reported wounded on August 16th. Photo Greg Marinovich

Hat Tip Keeping Stock

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quote of the week

From  Scott at Imperator Fish

"This is not the first time that the residents of Whanganui have been confronted with a terrifying and fear-inducing menace. However, on this occasion it seems unlikely that they will make the person in question their mayor."

Still laughing at it.

Femen with chainsaws

RT reports more on my favourite protest movement.
" The leader of the Ukrainian activist group Femen took a chainsaw to a cross in Kiev in protest of Pussy Riot’s trial. Demonstrations showing solidarity for the Punk band have sprung up worldwide on the day of Pussy Riot’s verdict.
Police have launched a criminal investigation into the felling of the crucifix that stood on Independence Hill in front of Kiev’s central square.
The feminist movement who recorded and took photos of the act of vandalism said it was a sign of solidarity for “the victims of a medieval witch hunt.”
“We want to show the authorities that no imbecile has the right to trample on freedom of speech and the rights of women and shut them [Pussy Riot] away in jail,” said a spokeswoman from the movement."
Putin is certainly deserving of the imbecile title Pussy Riot were in my opinion making a valid political point and certainly a prison sentence is out of all proportion to the so called offending.

                                                                              Reuters / Anatolii Stepanov
The symbolic felling of the cross has been dubbed as a “Trash Prayer,” inspired by Pussy Riot’s iconic “Punk Prayer.”
I wish they hadn't chopped down a cross religious freedom is important and pissing christians off is not what this is about despite the nature of Pussy Riot's original protest.
Pussy Riot have been found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after a high profile court case that has gripped the attention of world media for the past few months.
Femen said the “Trash Prayer” was a “warning” to President Putin and Patriarch Kirill that Femen would come after“the jerks responsible for their [Pussy Riot’s] suffering with a chainsaw.”
This is not the first time that Femen have rallied in support of Pussy Riot. One of the members of the feminist movement was taken into custody after parading topless around Kiev’s Borispol airport at the time of the arrival of Patriarch Kirill. She shouted – “get out of here!” and accused Patriarch Kirill of "unlawfully arresting" the anti-Putin activists.
The Russian Church is mad to get involved with politics and particularly in support someone as dubious as Putin.
The scantily-clad activists also voiced their disapproval, climbing to the bell tower of a Kiev church and sounding what they called an alarm “warning the city of a Mafioso conspiracy between church and state.”
The Femen movement has gained renown for their hysterical topless protests against all manner of social and political issues.
Hysterical is going to far, unless of course they mean in comical sense. These girls certainly make me laugh. They also have valid points that I think some times get over looked due to the nature of their protests.

" However, critics have lampooned the group, accusing them of using societal problems as a platform for self-promotion and being indifferent to real changes.
The movement has had a number of criminal investigations launched into its controversial actions, including hooliganism and desecration of state symbols.
The far-right All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda," or Freedom, has vowed to restore the cross, which was erected as a memorial to the victims of political oppression at the hands of the Soviet secret police under Stalin.
"Today's act of vandalism against the memory of victims of political repression showed that nonhumans have crossed the line and set themselves against the whole Ukrainian community, as almost every Ukrainian family was repressed by the communist regime,"  the party’s deputy head Andrey Mohnik said.
The cross should be restored but how ironic that a memorial to the victims of fascists is to restored by their political successors.  

" Global support

Pussy Riot sympathizers around the world also rallied in support of the group on Friday. In London protesters gathered outside the Russian embassy, some dressed as band members in anticipation of the ruling.
In New York, some 40 people marched from the Russian Consulate on Manhattan's Upper East Side to Times Square in a solidarity protest against the ruling. Six people were arrested for wearing masks. It is illegal for groups of three or more people to wear masks in New York City, except for on October 31, Halloween.
While as far afield as Brazil and Australia supporters donned balaclavas in solidarity of the punk trio.
In the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo three women had to be forcefully dragged from the steps of the Russian consulate."

Russia should expect further protest. The world is a village and Putin it seems has failed to understand that.

Murder ?

From the BBC  insanity continues in South Africa.


"South African Marikana miners charged with murder

Workers arrested at South Africa's Marikana mine have been charged in court with the murder of 34 of their colleagues shot by police.
The 270 workers would be tried under the "common purpose" doctrine because they were in the crowd which confronted police on 16 August, an official said.
Police opened fire, killing 34 miners and sparking a national outcry.
The decision to charge the workers was "madness", said former ruling ANC party youth leader Julius Malema."
Malema is a fool as Goodman Lepota explains but on this issue he is right.
"The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness," said Mr Malema, who was expelled from the ANC (African National Congress) earlier this year following a series of disagreements with President Jacob Zuma.
"The whole world saw the policemen kill those people," Mr Malema said, adding that he would ask defence lawyers to make an urgent application at the high court.
The killing of the 34 was the most deadly police action since South Africa became a democracy in 1994."
Al Jazeera reports is a link from an older blog but it shows video of the killings and in my mind it wasn't murder but panic on the part of the police. That most of the police involved were black makes me wonder about Malema's sincerity  he after all claims that everything that is wrong in South Africa is due to the presence of white people.

" Six of the 270 workers remain in hospital, after being wounded in the shooting at the mine owned by Lonmin, the world's third biggest platinum producer, in South Africa's North West province.

The other 264 workers appeared in the Ga Rankuwa magistrates court near the capital, Pretoria.
Their application for bail was rejected and the hearing was adjourned for seven days.
About 100 people protested outside the court, demanding the immediate release of the men."
Justice demands that they be released 270 men arrested ? Charged with killing people video evidence shows were shot by panicking police officers the ANC is a fucking joke.
'Flagrant abuse'
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Frank Lesenyego told the BBC the 270 workers would all face murder charges - including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd.
"This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities," he said.
South African lawyer Jay Surju told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the "common purpose" doctrine was used by the former white minority regime against activists fighting for racial equality in South Africa.
"This is a very outdated and infamous doctrine," he said.
"It was discredited during the time of apartheid."
Oh fuck off NPA you and the government off South Africa should be facing charges.  Slavery is illegal yet the ANC has let it happen.
The best known case was that of the "Upington 14", who were sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of a policeman in 1985.
The trial judge convicted the 14 activists, even though he acknowledged that they did not carry out the killing."
So what has changed. The ANC are a spent redundant political movement. 
"Anti-apartheid activists around the world protested against the ruling, which was overturned on appeal.
During a visit to the mine after the Marikana killings, President Zuma told workers he "felt their pain" and promised that a commission of inquiry would investigate the killings.
Mr Lesenyego said the commission would rule on the conduct of the police.
"It's a separate case," he said.
The commission and an internal police review are expected to take several months to complete.
Police said they started shooting after being threatened by large groups of miners armed with machetes.
Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the protests before the police shooting.
The protests were triggered by demands for a huge pay rise and recognition of a new union.
Talks are continuing to resolve the dispute, which has shut the mine for the past three weeks."
Justice can be as simple as a living wage, a basic human right.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Poetic Justice

From Yahoo 
Thief targets ebola patient gets infected


A thief in Uganda has contracted Ebola after stealing the mobile phone of a hospital patient suffering from the potentially fatal infection.
Security and medical officials in Kibaale District, mid-west Uganda, told the Daily Monitor website that the man went into the isolation ward at Kagadi Hospital and stole a cellular phone from one of the Ebola patients.
The patient, who later died from the hemorrhagic fever, reported the theft.
Police began tracking the thief when he started using the phone, the Daily Monitor reported.
But by the time they found him he had gone to hospital with symptoms similar to those of Ebola.
He reportedly confessed to stealing the phone.
Kibaale District Health Officer Dr Dan Kyamanywa, told the Daily Monitor: “The suspect is admitted at Kagadi Hospital with clinical signs of Ebola.” “He is receiving medication. We have obtained samples from him,” Mr Kyamanywa added.
The Uganda Virus Research Institute is yet to release the results of the tests.
I hope he lives despite the repulsive nature of his crime.

An interesting Juxtaposition

An interesting piece from the Afghanistan Ambassador in Stuff  that compounds the ignorance of Barbara Sumner Burstyn 

 KILLED KIWI SOLDIERS: (From top left) Richard Harris, Luke Tamatea, Jacinda Baker, Pralli Durrer, Rory Malone, Douglas Hughes, Leon Smith, Doug Grant, Kirifi Mila, Tim O'Donnell.

OPINION: Arriving at Auckland for my first visit as Afghanistan's new Ambassador to New Zealand, I immediately noticed the half-mast flag flying over a building at the airport.
The half-mast flag was to honour the services of three brave soldiers, Lance-Corporal Jacinda Baker, Private Richard Harris and Corporal Luke Tamatea, who had been killed by a Taleban roadside bomb in the northeast part of Bamiyan province in Afghanistan.
These brave soldiers - two young men and a young woman - and seven other service personnel killed since 2001, left the comfort of family and friends and decided to provide security and extend their helping hand to their fellow human beings over thousands of kilometres away in a remote region of central Afghanistan.
Every single day, since the removal in 2001 of the Taleban regime and their al Qaeda supporters in late 2001, the Afghan people, our National Security Forces and the international contingent of which New Zealand is a member, have been serving shoulder-to-shoulder in a very challenging environment. Their mission is to protect the world from the menace of al Qaeda and violent extremism and to make sure that Afghanistan will not fall back to the dark days of the Taleban regime which took the country and its people hostage and deprived them of basic human needs and rights. 
This is a noble cause and this, for anyone who is still not clear, is the real reason why the presence and sacrifices of the people and government of New Zealand are for the good of peace and security and democracy in Afghanistan and peace and security in the region and the wider world. And that’s precisely why we the Afghan people honour the dedication and sacrifices of the Kiwi soldiers and acknowledge their exemplary bravery in action, devotion to service and love for fellow human beings. Specifically, New Zealand’s support for the  mission in Afghanistan and its PRT in Bamiyan have contributed to stability and the provision of humanitarian assistance as well as access to health care, education and clean water for thousands of vulnerable people living in the rugged valleys of central Afghanistan. It is the true spirit of good citizenship demonstrated and seen in practice.
Over the past 10 years we Afghans have gained a tremendous amount of experience and trust in working together with our international partners in a very challenging region of the world. We had remarkable successes in dismantling and degrading the terrorist networks, taking away their planning and executing capabilities and removing their top level leadership, including Osama bin Laden who was killed in an operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011.
These 10 years have been a truly unique chapter in the history of our country. After decades of strife and violence, we took steps re-build state institutions, create a vibrant civil society, nurture and expand freedom of media and ensure the basic rights of women and men. We have sought to lay the foundations of a young democracy.  Our social and economic accomplishments have been remarkable, greater by comparison than in any other period in our country’s recent history. The progress we are making is undoubtedly the result of tireless efforts by brave man and women of our two great nations and many other international partners.
After almost a decade of a joint effort, at the NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010 we agreed on a time table for orderly withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF). We have also agreed that the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) will gradually take over responsibility for securing the country
The progress we are making is undoubtedly the result of tireless efforts by brave man and women our two great nations and many other international partners. Though the recent upsurge of violence and terrorist attacks on Afghan cities and villages, including yesterday’s brutal killing of 17 men and women by the Taleban at a wedding party in Helmand, have tempered the sense and pride we feel at our achievements, we remain firmly committed to realising the aspiration of the Afghan people for a peaceful and prosperous lives.
The people of Afghanistan have suffered from too much violence and too much despair over the past decade since the Soviets invaded our peaceful and stable country in 1979. We have seen too many of our young men and women lose their lives as a result of war and conflict. Our people crave and deserve sustainable peace, stability and security not only 'til 2014 but for many years to come.
New Zealand has given us a strong helping hand in our journey so far since 2001 for which we’re ceaselessly and genuinely filled with appreciation and gratitude. Our close partnership over the past decade and our shared sacrifices have also laid down the foundations of long-term, enduring friendship and cooperation between our two nations. We keenly look forward to sustaining this spirit of friendship, partnership and cooperation for many years to come.
* Nasir A Andisha is the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Australia and New Zealand. We can be reached at

It is a shame Burstyn will probably never read it and thus remain ignorant.

Michelle Obama Nude ( sort of )

I was totally unaware of the Michelle Obama controversy raging in Europe until checking out 
Alex's blog however it would seem Fuera de Serie a Spanish magazine have done some creative revisionism. Below is a translation, thanks google not sure I am enlightened at all

Michelle Obama eats

Never said it ensures that well-known that behind every great man there is a great woman was so successful in describing the Obama marriage. In the shadow of the U.S. President is a person whose popularity ratings exceed those of Barack own. This person is none other than his wife Michelle, who stars in the cover of the magazine this week.

Political communication experts are no strangers to the overwhelming charm of the first lady and, knowing this, she even point will be key to the reelection of Democrat in the next presidential election to be held in November. To find out how Michelle has managed to seduce the American people, the journalist Paul Scarpellini detail the secrets of women who not only won the hearts of Barack Obama.

The supplement of the newspaper El Mundo on Sunday also brings other characters as the prestigious fashion designer Elena Benarroch, which just opened shop and collection inspired by the 80s, the versatile Antonia Dell'Atte or actor and Santi Millán.

Besides these names, you will discover the fascinating stories of Hotel Formentor Majorca, where they have vacationed several generations of international jet or know the dark personality that was behind the genius of the father of relativity, Albert Einstein.

Alex however is a far more artistic sole than me

" On display at the Louvre today, "Le Portrait d'une négresse" is a tiny
oil on canvas painting (85x65cm) in which Benoist densely compresses
its theme to a flashpoint.

The painting was meant as a celebration of the abolition of slavery.

By a subtle subversion of its overt meaning, however, Benoist was able
to superimpose layers of radical connotations.

For instance, Benoist chose as subject a woman, instead of the male
slave usually associated with the hard labor of slavery on the
plantations of the Americas.

She further casts her subject in a bourgeois setting as an object of
sexual desire. "

Well as an uncultured pleb I would have to say Michelle Obama is hot but there is more to it as Alex explains

" But what Marie-Guillemine Benoist brilliantly achieves is to make a
mockery of two major promises of the French Revolution:

1) The "brotherhood of the human race" was a con after all, and in
fact, two years after Benoist's painting, Napoléon reinstated slavery;

2) Gender equality was likewise another lie: French women were still
second-class citizens and in many ways just as disenfranchised as
plantation slaves.

Who knows? Maybe the "négresse" in Benoist's painting is the Parisian
woman still shackled as a slave in her bourgeois surrounding. "

I am going to leave you with Alex's conclusion because it make sense to me. 

" I got a theory: ignoramuses being outraged by art these days never
had the basics of art history or aesthetics.

This tautological theory of mine won't do them justice. For they
belong to the category of the nutjobs willing to kill over a cartoon! "

And also a promise this blog will shy away from artistic arguments but the outrage this has caused in the States is amusing.