Archive for June, 2013

Leonie’s View: Clem Sunter likes Namibia.

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thanks Leonie for forwarding this glowing review of Namibia by Clem Sunter. Glad Clem likes Namibia! People generally do.

Over to Clem.

Last week I flew to Windhoek to be a guest speaker at an awards dinner arranged for the first time by the Namibian Manufacturers Association. I felt quite chuffed because the other South African performing at the same function was Khaya Mthetwa, our 2012 winner of Idols. We had a chat before the dinner and it was clear that one of the reasons he won the title was the age-old formula of passion plus homework to succeed in your occupation. He really sweated the small stuff to stay ahead of his competitors – and he has a great voice too.

However, the reason for this article is that whenever I go to Namibia, I come back with a mixture of tranquillity, joy and renewed hope that we in South Africa can get it right too. Black Namibian citizens get on with German citizens who get on with Afrikaans citizens and everybody else comes along for the ride. Namibia gained independence only a few years ahead of us and yet they seem to have settled down to getting on with life and hopefully raising the quality of it for all their citizenry.

Yes, it is a small country with only 2.3 million inhabitants and yes it has the same level of youth unemployment of just over 50% that we have. But somehow people are not nearly as angry and combative as they are here. Quite a few senior South African business executives seconded to posts in their companies in Namibia privately expressed their wish to stay beyond their period of secondment. Their stated reason was that people are so nice and friendly, everybody works as a team, the media does not offer a daily dose of hate stories, the violent crime rate is much lower and even the SWAPO youth wing leader apologised publicly for some of the comments he had made.

Now I know that some of you reading this article will say that Windhoek does not represent the country. I fully understand that as I did a roadshow around the entire country for a bank several years ago and there are deep pockets of poverty as you go to the extreme north. Yet a peacefulness reigns towards which we are still aspiring. Namibians may be poorer than us, have less mineral riches and have a sparse natural environment but they probably rank higher on the happiness index. Moreover, Namibia’s economic GDP growth rate in 2012 was 5%, exactly double our figure of 2.5%.

David Moseley’s excellent article last week on the ugly conduct of South Africans towards parking officials and students selling match programmes is not evident on the streets of Windhoek where courteous behaviour is shown even to the humblest individual trying to ply his or her trade. At the awards dinner, the final speaker was the Honourable Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Trade and Industry. He outlined the "growth at home" programme which has objectives broadly in line with our National Development Plan, namely to accelerate economic growth, reduce income inequality and increase employment. Good luck to him. He quoted Henry Ford: "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."

Consistent with this theme, Khaya sang a song in his cabaret with all the verve of the original artist, Otis Redding. It is entitled "Try a little tenderness" and includes the lines "Hey, Hey you gotta know what to do, don’t be a fool, you need to try it now." Maybe, we have got to try a bit harder in South Africa to replicate the coolness of Namibians. We must chill out a bit and get on with it.

Send your comments to Clem

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Thai Days: A Bangkok bus trip!

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog noted with no particular surprise another political ballsup. The Thai Minister of Transport has recently been urging officials to use public transport and report on any problems. H then decided to set an example by using public transport himself. He hopped on a bus destined for Don Mueang airport. Nearly two hours later the bus was still embroiled in a monumental traffic jam and had covered just a quarter of the distance.

“The trip was a flop,” Chadchat told the media. “I didn’t get to where I wanted to go.”  Him and 100,000 other people using public transport.

He did actually make it to the airport eventually. He bailed out of the bus at Victory Monument and summoned his chauffeur driven car. Hit the expressway. Caught his flight.

As PR stunts go this one has to be rated less than a victory.  

But maybe an education.

“I share the feelings of other bus passengers”, said Chadchat.  

Worth Watching: johan_rockstrom TED Talks

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has been informed by my wife (currently in Malaysia) that this TED Talk is “worth watching”. I’ve watched it. Didn’t hear much. My daughter’s back in projectile vomiting mode. It happens after a birthday party. The cats have decided to join the performance. Chundertown! The only pacifier and sedative seems to be Lassie. At high volume just in case the rest of Bangkok is hard of hearing. Hope you actually get to hear and see Johan in action! If my wife says it’s worth watching it probably is! There are other links, too. Cheers! Hugh in Bangkok.

Worth watching



and a ppt which has some of the slides of today’s ppt; some in Swedish …..

Can’t vouch for this one. I’m too busy watching Lassie.

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Dope of the Day Award; She’s Dead! Obviously Dead!

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog awards this prestigious recognition of human stupidity to a lady in Ohio. She quit her job to look after her elderly mother. Mummy died. Daughter decided to skip funeral expence and buried her in the back garden. She then thought “What the hey! The social security checks are still coming. Why stop the flow of gold?”

For fourteen years years the checks kept coming. Total revenue? More than 141,000 US dollars.

All good things come to an end. Mum hit 103 years old. The daughter entered serious Dope of the Day territory! If you make it to a hundred in England the Queen sends you a congratulation message. If you clear the century since birth you usually merit a mention in the media.

An official from social security turned up to ask about her health.

Obviously there wasn’t any health. And definitely no sign of the mother.

There were some lame excuses for her not being there. She was on a cruise. She was going to live with a niece in New York.

103 and going on a cruise? Upping sticks for New York to stay with a niece? What’s the niece going to say?

I despair! Her daughter should have let her die a decade ago. That would have been plausible.

No. Ohio! Dope of the Day Award – all yours! Enjoy it in prison and affter release six months of home confinement.




Japan Times: Cheating and integrity!

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog reports with morbid interest that a 52-year-old French mother applied heavy layers of makeup and tried to impersonate her 19-year-old daughter and take an English language test on her behalf. An audacious and no doubt loving enterprise but one doomed to failure. While the mother spent two hours completing the exam the school called the police. Her daughter has been banned from taking the exam for five years. This will give her time to study!

The reason this story caught my eye is an experience one of my friends had in a highly respected Tokyo university. Exam time. Entrance exam time! Once you are enrolled in a Japanese university it’s three or four years of lazy days and goofing off. No work at all, or very little. But getting into a university? That’s the tough bit!

The invigilator at this particular University entrance exam noticed that some would-be students were looking uncomfortable and increasingly agitated/distracted/confused. The source of this disturbance was an unusual looking girl. Closer inspection revealed the girl to be VERY unusual. It was her father, wearing lipstick and a swishy dress. He was a graduate and wanted his daughter to be one, too. But he didn’t trust her ability to perform so decided to ease her way into the system by doing it himself.



On a slightly anticlimax sort of note (you can’t beat Dad dressing up as daughter!) when I was teaching at a Tokyo university I was invited by a professor to have a private chat in his office. He gave me a strong drink. There was a North Korean student in my class he told me. This came as a surprise. I couldn’t recall seeing a North Korean in my class. He gave me another strong drink. No. Still couldn’t recall a North Korean. He needs to graduate, the prof told me. He’s been here for five years and he needs to graduate. The prof, who had also had a few strong drinks, explained the situation in more detail. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: We want to get rid of him.

I wondered how it was possible to get rid of somebody who wasn’t here and had never been here in the first place! This NK had already got ridden of himself from day one. Nuff said, thought I.

I was honest. I had moral standards. I said I was not giving an invisible student an “A” in English. The drinks cabinet shut swiftly. Party over.

But not quite. I got home. The phone rang. I picked up and there was a desperate appeal for an “A”.

“Are you…” I couldn’t think of his name. Unsurprising. I didn’t know what it was. But I knew who he was. And his English was rather better than all the other students in my class.

“I operate my restaurant in Yokohama.”

“That sounds like hard work. Is the food any good?”

“Very. No time to study.”

“Best of luck with the business! It’s been a pleasure teaching you.”

I gave him an “A” the prof gave me another strong drink and looked happy. I think we all felt happy. Somewhere in Yokohama there is a thriving North Korean restaurant with an owner with a totally useless university degree. There’s a professor (probably now retired) who solved an issue and destroyed my integrity. And me, now sitting here wondering if I should put on a wig, a dress and pretend to be my daughter and do her maths Kumon later this morning. Probably a bad notion. My maths is worse than hers.

Cheers from Bangkok!


New post from Anilbalan’s Ghost Cities Blog: The Angel of Mons

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is, as always, delighted to hear from Anilbalan’s Ghost Cities blog. The angel of Mons. Read on!

New post on Ghost Cities


The Angel of Mons

by anilbalan

The Angel of Mons – a popular story about a group of angels who supposedly protected members of the British army in the Battle of Mons – is perhaps the most enduring supernatural legend of the First World War. The battle of Mons took place on 23 August 1914 and within weeks tales of the ‘Angel of Mons’ had entered the realms of legend. It arose from a belief during the Great War that a miracle had happened during the British Army’s first desperate clash with the advancing Germans at Mons in Belgium. In some versions a vision of St George and phantom bowmen halted the Kaiser’s troops, while others claimed angels had thrown a protective curtain around the British, saving them from disaster. By the end of the war it became unpatriotic, even treasonable, to doubt the claims were based on fact. The spread of the legend was aided by the publication on 29 September 1914 by Welsh author Arthur Machen of a short story entitled The Bowmen, which was inspired by accounts that he had read of the fighting at Mons and an idea he had had soon after the battle. Machen’s story was written from a first-hand perspective and was a kind of false document, a technique he knew well. The unintended result, however, was that Machen had a number of requests to provide evidence for his sources for the story soon after its publication, from readers who thought it was true, to which he responded that it was completely imaginary (he had no desire to create a hoax). The only link between the Mons retreat and Machen’s story, in fact, was its beginning, which observed that troops of the British Expeditionary Force were in retreat: Mons itself was not mentioned. However, to this day, the myth and the short story have become intertwined so inextricably that it is almost impossible to unravel which was the inspiration for the other.

Read more of this post

anilbalan | June 29, 2013 at 2:00 am | Tags: Angel of Mons, Arthur Machen, The Bowmen | Categories: Sightings, Supernatural fiction, Unexplained Mystery, Urban Legend | URL:

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I can’t compete with Guatemala!

June 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog welcomes communications from Guatemala and they come very often. I have aches and pains. I have mishaps. Some witch drops an iron pole on my head knocking me out. I have things to complain about. But Guatemala always reduces my aches and pains and head wounds to mere trivia. Ricaardo was playing football and was given a knee to the face after a dispute. His nose is broken, so are his cheek bones. His face is smashed flat.  Colum is taking him to hospital as you read this. At least he’s alive. The last batch Colum had to sort out were slaughtered by a demented husband. Wife and children.Chopped up. Shot. Thee guy was barmy! Colum was cool and cleared up the mess.

I’m counting my blessings! And one of those blessings is that I don’t live in Guatemala!



Brigitte’s Pick: MASTERCARD WEDDING – This guy is now a legend.

June 28, 2013

This one, Hugh Paxton’s Blog advises is very Brigitte Pick! Sordid, funny, hard to believe! Basically classic Brigitte!

You got to love this guy…

This is a true story about a recent
wedding that took place at Clemson University.

It was in the local newspaper and even
Jay Leno mentioned it.

It was a huge wedding with about 300 guests.

After the wedding, at the reception, the groom got up on stage

with a microphone to talk to the crowd. He said he wanted to thank
everyone for coming, many from long distances, to support them
at their wedding.

He especially wanted to thank the bride’s and his family

and to thank his new father-in-law for providing such a lavish reception.

As a token of his deep appreciation he said he wanted to give everyone a special gift just from him. So taped to the bottom of everyone’s chair, including the wedding party was an envelope.

He said this was his gift to everyone, and asked them to
open their envelope.

Inside each manila envelope was an 8×10 glossy
of his bride having sex with the best man.

The groom had gotten suspicious of them weeks earlier and had
hired a private detective to tail them.

After just standing there, just watching the guests’ reactions
for a couple of minutes, he turned to the best man and
said, ‘F—you!’ Then he turned to his bride and said, ‘F— you!’

Then he turned to the dumbfounded crowd and said,
‘I’m outta here.’

He had the marriage annulled first thing in the morning.

While most people would have canceled the wedding immediately

after finding out about the affair, this guy goes through with the
charade, as if nothing were wrong.

His revenge–making the bride’s parents pay over $32,000 for a
300-guest wedding and reception, and best of all, trashing the
bride’s and best man’s reputations in front of 300 friends and family members.

This guy has balls the size of church bells.

Do you think we might get a MasterCard ‘priceless’ commercial out of this?

Elegant wedding reception for 300 family members and friends: $32,000.

Wedding photographs commemorating the Occasion: $3,000

Deluxe two-week honeymoon accommodations in Maui : $8,500.

The look on everyone’s face when they see the 8 x 10 glossy
of the bride humping the best man: Priceless.

There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else

A MasterCard Wedding

‘Life isn’t like a bowl of cherries or peaches,

it’s more like a jar of Jalapenos–what you do today,

might burn your ass tomorrow…’


Latest INTERPOL Media Release: INTERPOL-UNEP manual alerts authorities to methods of smuggling dangerous chemicals

June 28, 2013

Interpol again! Hugh Paxton’s blog welcomes this latest! Although smuggling dangerous chemicals isn’t really my field.

From: Environmental Crime Programme []
Subject: Latest INTERPOL Media Release: INTERPOL-UNEP manual alerts authorities to methods of smuggling dangerous chemicals

Media Release

INTERPOL-UNEP manual alerts authorities to methods of smuggling dangerous chemicals

Illicit trade in ozone depleting substances causes health, environmental damage

BANGKOK, Thailand – The smuggling and concealment of ozone depleting substances (ODS) is a global problem with serious consequences for environmental protection, according to a new law enforcement handbook produced by INTERPOL and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The manual, entitled ‘Ozone Depleting Substances Smuggling and Concealment: Case Study Handbook’, provides information and guidance for police, customs and border security officers on methods commonly used by criminals to hide and smuggle illegal ODS. The ultimate aim is to strengthen the law enforcement response to the illegal trade in these chemicals.

Ozone depleting substances are chemicals which contribute to the destruction of ozone molecules in the atmosphere. These substances are used in refrigeration and air conditioning, cleaning agents and agricultural pesticides, particularly in developing countries. The depletion of the ozone layer caused by ODS has negative effects on both human health and on the environment, leading to, for example, higher rates of skin cancer and contributing to climate change.

Despite nearly worldwide ratification of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and its subsequent amendments, trafficking of these chemicals still occurs. The trade is fueled in part by the high cost of alternative chemicals, the continued use of equipment which uses ODS, and the price differential between ODS in industrialized and developing countries.

Robert van de Bogert, Head of the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate – Intelligence and Investigation Service said: "Even 15 years after the introduction of the trade ban there still are illegal exports of CFCs, therefore international coordination is still needed."

To produce the manual, INTERPOL gathered case studies from member countries detailing current methods they have found used by criminals for smuggling and concealing ODS. Case studies were submitted by 18 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, as well as UNEP and the World Customs Organization, highlighting the truly global scope of the problem.

"The contribution of case studies from such a wide range of INTERPOL member countries emphasizes the global nature of illegal trade in ozone depleting substances. ODS pose a great threat to the security of our shared environment," said David Higgins, Manager of the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme.

Common smuggling and concealment methods highlighted in the manual include falsely labeling containers, bypassing customs and hiding illegal chemicals behind legal goods.

"ODS smugglers are often inventive, ingenious and well connected – making it difficult for enforcement agencies to detect and seize illegal shipments of ODS. It is only by remaining well informed, vigilant and cooperating at national and international levels that the scourge of ODS smuggling can be combated," said Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Head of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, OzonAction Branch. "This practical guide will contribute to these important efforts."

The guidebook was made available to the law enforcement community during the 33rd Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Bangkok.

Under the direction of the Pollution Crime Working Group and Project Eden, INTERPOL has expanded its pollution crime-related initiatives. The Pollution Crime Working Group will hold its 18th meeting in November in Nairobi, Kenya, during the INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement events (4-8 November 2013).

Law enforcement officials are kindly requested to contact their INTERPOL National Central Bureau for access to the handbook.

Best regards,

Environmental Crime Programme
INTERPOL General Secretariat

200 Quai Charles de Gaulle
69006 Lyon, France


TIPSHEET: Pacific Leaders Pass Shark Conservation Resolution

June 28, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog rates this as progress! Sharks with a chance? Possible. Thanks to the Pew Trust for this!

From: Kymberly Escobar []
Sent: Friday, June 28, 2013 6:13 AM
Subject: TIPSHEET: Pacific Leaders Pass Shark Conservation Resolution

At its annual meeting in Honolulu, the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) today issued a shark resolution to greatly expand the region’s commitment to create national shark sanctuaries and to collaborate with their neighbors on enforcement, outreach, and education.

The new resolution, introduced by Pohnpei Senator Edgar Lickaneth Hawaii State Senator Glenn Wakai, builds upon a which is now nearing completion.

Since 2009, many Pacific countries and territories have created shark protections aimed at ending the unsustainable commercial fishing of sharks. Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Tokelau, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Hawaii have acted thus far. The new APIL resolution will be delivered to leaders of the 16 member Pacific Islands Forum in September calling on them to collaborate on a Pacific Islands Regional Shark Sanctuary, an ocean-wide safe haven for sharks. Shark sanctuaries, which ban the commercial fishing of sharks throughout a country’s entire exclusive economic zone, are the strongest protections that can be put in place.

The resolution also includes a call by the members opposing attempts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to undermine shark conservation in U.S. states and territories.

“Pacific leaders continue to be trailblazers on shark conservation issues and are giving sharks a real chance at survival,” said Jill Hepp, director of shark conservation at Pew. “The Pew Charitable Trusts looks forward to working collaboratively in the region with leaders to protect sharks.”

Member governments of APIL are already collaborating on outreach, education, and enforcement efforts. The Pew Charitable Trusts supports enforcement trainings for governments that have banned commercial fishing of sharks. In the last 12 months trainings have taken place in Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Kosrae.

Approximately 100 million sharks are killed globally each year.

APIL membership consists of lawmakers from Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati.

Pew has experts who have worked with governments on the designation of shark sanctuaries in the Pacific, available for interviews. In addition, I can send the resolution your way. Please let me know if you are interested.




Kymberly Escobar

Director, Communications

The Pew Charitable Trusts

Washington, DC
p: 202-887-8814 | c: 202-441-9995

kescobar | skype: kymesco

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