Tuesday, April 19, 2011

South African Police brutality

After the recent savage police beating and shooting to death by rubber bullet of Meleke Andries Tatane in Ficksberg, South Africa, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) released a statement condemning the action. They also mentioned the following frightening statistics:

"In 2008/9, the ICD [Independent Complaints Directorate] received 378 reports of [police-related] common assault, 828 of assault with grievous bodily harm, and 372 of attempted murder. Of these, only 6 of each resulted in successful prosecution – percentages of 1.58, 0.72 and 1.61 respectively. While there are no doubt examples where the police were innocent of wrongdoing, these numbers seem heavily skewed."

Seeming heavily skewed is the understatement of the century. The bottom line is, of every 100 cases of supposed police excess reported in South Africa, fully 98 of them will be unsuccessfully prosecuted. It's clear that the South African Police Service are a law unto themselves, a classic demonstration of the principle that there is one set of rules for the common man, and another set entirely for the special ones. If you get the crap beaten out of you by the Boere, you're on your own. Don't expect justice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Need a reason to give up using a cellphone while driving?

Try this. This driver was using a cellphone (a.k.a mobile phone) when he lost control and hit the crash barrier. The rest has to be seen to be believed. This is one of the more monumental pieces of Weaponized Stupidity seen so far.

What speed does one have to be travelling to scoop up 50 metres or so of a crash barrier through the engine compartment of a 4x4? And this moron was driving at that speed with a cellphone in the other hand. There really is no limit to human stupidity.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rules are rules

It was a normal day in Sharon Springs, Kansas, when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek to Salina.

Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing became overheated and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail. A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the rules. The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with creosote ties and trusses.

The crew tried to explain this to Union Pacific higher-ups but were instructed not to move the train. They were informed that The Rules prohibited moving the train when a part was found to be defective.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

World challenges

Long-standing challenges the world faces are several. The addition of 80 million people each year to an already overcrowded globe is exacerbating the problems of underemployment, pollution, waste-disposal, epidemics, water-shortages, famine, over-fishing of oceans, deforestation, desertification, and depletion of non-renewable resources. The nation-state, as a bedrock economic-political institution, is steadily losing control over international flows of people, goods, funds, and technology. Internally, the central government often finds its control over resources slipping as separatist regional movements - typically based on ethnicity - gain momentum, e.g., in many of the successor states of the former Soviet Union, in the former Yugoslavia, in India, in Iraq, in Indonesia, and in Canada. Externally, the central government is losing decision-making powers to international bodies, most notably the EU. The introduction of the euro as the common currency of much of Western Europe in January 1999, while paving the way for an integrated economic powerhouse, poses economic risks because the participating nations are culturally and politically diverse and have varying levels and rates of growth of income, and hence, differing needs for monetary policy. In Western Europe, governments face the difficult political problem of channeling resources away from welfare programs in order to increase investment and strengthen incentives to seek employment. Because of their own internal problems and priorities, the industrialized countries devote insufficient resources to deal effectively with the poorer areas of the world, which, at least from an economic point of view, are becoming further marginalized. The terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 accentuated a growing risk to global prosperity, illustrated, for example, by the reallocation of resources away from investment to anti-terrorist programs. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan added new uncertainties to global economic prospects.
Despite these challenges, the world economy also shows great promise. Technology has made possible further advances in all fields, from agriculture, to medicine, alternative energy, metallurgy, and transportation. Improved global communications have greatly reduced the costs of international trade, helping the world gain from the international division of labor, raise living standards, and reduce income disparities among nations. Much of the resilience of the world economy in 2009 resulted from government leaders around the world working in concert to stem the financial onslaught, knowing well the lessons of past economic failures.

Source: CIA World Factbook 2011