Category Archives: Latest NEWS!

U.S. Gay Marriage Legislation

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The U.S. Gay Marriage Legislation and what it means

It is hot news and a conversation topic that The United States of America has passed legislation that legalizes gay marriage on a Federal Level. What this means is that each state now has to issue Marriage Certificates to same sex couples. As we all know, gay marriage has been legal in South Africa since 1994. However, what is passed as law is not always observed in practice. A law cannot change the hearts and minds of people, but it can make them think about what they believe and perhaps to question that. People have very strong feelings around their sexuality, and the problem of being accepted or not as a gay person and couple lies deeper than the law. However, when the most responsible body in the land makes a public statement like this, it tends to make people wonder if they should reconsider their cherished beliefs. Gay Marriage has the potential to change lives.

Gay people are no different from other people.  The fact that they have been treated differently, and been ascribed with all sorts of negative attributes due to our moral take on sexuality, has warped the lives of many gay people, including myself. By being reduced to someone primarily known for their sexual orientation, disregarding all else, a lot of humanity is lost. This brings up the argument of nature versus nurture, how much us is what we have been taught in church and school, and how much of what we are is really us? Most people who identify as Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay or Transsexual have a hard time making sense of the world through this lens of disapproval, which due to the human need to belong, becomes internalized and causes many problems in their relationships. A marriage is a type of relationship that not all gay people even aspire to. However, being recognized as normal human beings with the same needs as everyone else is a huge need in the gay community. Gay marriage or the right to be married puts all gay relationships inside a new framework of legitimacy.

My hope is that the U.S. legislation regarding gay marriage will raise the debate to a new platform of equality. One where LBGT folks will be treated just like everyone else with the same reasonably expected human foibles. No longer will the problems we have come about “because we are gay.” As a human race, we face many new challenges and it is time for all members of the human family to become accepting and gracious toward each other. This brings to mind a famous saying: “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.”

Rand Jitters

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The Rand and the Ripple Effect

The South African Rand made quite a nose dive this week when it hit the lowest point in thirteen years. This made investors and economists quite jittery, not to mention the poor souls in the clutches of debt. Who can afford such bad economic times these days anyway? The weak currency has a tremendously wide ripple effect, affecting almost everything in a negative manner. The Rand gets influenced by so many external factors in turn, of which most are foreign influences.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Inflation-Hike (The Ugly):

The weaker the Rand gets, the higher the inflation rate. Anything above 3 to 4 % of the annual range of inflation is considered as high. A skyrocketing inflation rate would have dire economical consequences! Here are a few general concerns:

–       Rising inflation results in lowering of income, especially for those already facing pay freezes and -cuts.

–       General living costs will rise as the prices of necessities such as food and municipal utilities like water and electricity rise, along with everything else. Usually the elderly and lower income families are the ones suffering the most. In general, everybody is getting poorer bit by bit.

–       People living from the interest on their investments will also get poorer if the inflation rate should go higher than their interest rates.

–       There is a general uncertainty and lack of business confidence as businesses find it difficult to establish their costs and prices.

–       With a weaker Rand value, crude oil will be much more expensive, resulting in higher fuel prices. That in turn will cause rising in consumer prices and directly a higher inflation rate. It’s a vicious cycle, really, which will hopefully be turned around soon enough.

Interest Rates (The Bad):

Interest rates naturally go up when the Rand looses value. The reason for this being financial markets protecting themselves. For those fortunate South Africans with investments and more savings than debt, this is good news of course. Sadly, for most, too high interest rates paint a darker future. Mortgages and borrowing money are getting less affordable, while most cannot afford to buy a house or car for instance without a loan.

The Flip Side (The Good):

This might all seem pretty overwhelming, but our country was in worst situations before. We always somehow managed to get through it in the end. While we cannot do anything about foreign affairs influencing our economy, we can at least take care of our own affairs. There are so many inspiring stories of individuals who managed to claw their way out of debt in the worst economical times and situations. There are just as much help around to teach us how to take care of our own economy. Worrying about the weakening Rand or the global economy won’t change a thing. We might as well take charge of what we can.

Author: Maritha Koortzen

marithak@webmail.co.za

The author writes to various websites and newspapers mostly on Health and Social Issues. She also talks at Ladies Events about Health and Wellness.

Feel free to contact her for any free lance writing.

 

Nkandla and the Views of the Opposition

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Nkandla – Angry opposition

After the release of the Nkandla report by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, it was clear that a large proportion of the nation was angry and unimpressed by the report’s findings. The finding that president Zuma need not pay back the money spent on Nkandla was definitely not what the opposition parties or the nation wanted to hear.

The Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane said that the “President is sending a clear message that corruption does not matter and that he should be above the law” the DA further branded the report a “whitewash” and an “insult to the South African people”. Party leader Maimane said that “The DA will not allow the President to get away with the theft of public funds … We have, therefore, referred the matter to our legal team for the consideration of the rationale of Minister Nhleko’s determination, and our constitutional and legal remedies.”

It was not only the DA who made themselves heard. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said that the party will still continue with their “pay back the money” campaign. They also stated that they would go to court if necessary and that they won’t rest “until Zuma pays back some portion of the money” spent on Nkandla.

Other political parties, like the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), also voiced shock at Nhleko’s report. Kenneth Meshoe is quoted as saying: “I am shocked that the minister of police has found that President Zuma does not have to repay a thing for the additional upgrades at his Nkandla residence”.

Unsurprisingly, the ruling party welcomed the report about Nkandla by the Police Minister. In the report it was also made clear that even more upgrades would be forthcoming, which are said to include motion detector beams and camera monitors with recording capabilities.

Whatever the next steps of the various opposition parties are going to be, it is clear that we have not yet reached the conclusion of the Nkandla and “fire pool” saga. Many citizens hope that this report by the Police Minister will not be the final word on the subject, and welcome the parties taking steps against it.

 

Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.

South Africa unites against e-toll

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A nation united against e-tolling

Mention e-toll fees in any conversation and a tsunami of vitriolic responses follows immediately. Citizens aren’t shy to voice their opinions on e-toll fees. Public sentiment has been overwhelmingly negative since the very first mention of e-tolling back in 2007. The general feeling is that we pay sufficient other taxes including steep fuel levies to cover road maintenance and upgrades.

Symbols of Oppression

E-toll gantries have become a symbol of oppression to many road users who feel the Gauteng government and the ANC aren’t heeding the collective voice of the people. People of all colours and creed are united in their resolve to not be bullied into registering and paying for e-toll. The last time such a large and diverse group of people were opposed and stood against a single cause, it was when they fought for the end of apartheid.

Threats: Pay or else…

On May 20, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced drastic methods to cut e-toll fees by half in some cases. He also warned that non-payers would have their licence discs withheld in future. This announcement caused quite an uproar with many calling his bluff, suggesting it’ll be illegal practice to refuse the re-issuing or renewal of licence discs because of non-payment of e-toll dues.

A resounding ‘no’ to e-tolls

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) have called on government to abolish e-tolls. In a recent study conducted by Ipsos “the vast majority of Gauteng motorists (74%) were of the opinion that the government should find an alternative to the e-toll system in Gauteng.”

Government’s seemingly unwillingness to listen to the cries of the people may result in the ANC losing ground in the next elections. We, the people of South Africa have a voice and a say and we want it to be heard. We want a government that will listen to its people and respect their opinions.

References

http://www.fin24.com/Economy/LIVE-Ramaphosa-lifts-veil-on-e-tolls-20150520

http://pressoffice.mg.co.za/ipsos/PressRelease.php?StoryID=258561

Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech

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A Look at … CHARLIE HEBDO and freedom of speech

Offending our liberal sentiments

The recent killings in Paris at the offices of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, had a worldwide reaction entirely disproportionate to the actual death toll (12 in the attack and 2 policemen). Astonishingly it prompted a demonstration by millions of people. France has flooded the streets with soldiers and police “to keep people safe”.2000 people died in Nigeria recently too, many of the girls abducted by Boko Haram have still not been rescued, a ten year old was used as a suicide bomber, Palestinians die daily in the territories occupied by Israel, a mortuary-based study concluded that in South Africa a woman is killed by an intimate partner every six hours, and Rape Crisis reports disturbing statistics of rape of under-aged girls. A new law in Russia states that homosexuals and transsexuals will not be issued with drivers’ licences for medical reasons. Three journalists from Al Jazeera have been in prison in Egypt for more than a year. In Kabul exists a custom of resistance, the Bacha Posh – girls that are raised and presented as boys because women have almost no rights in their society.

This is the state of our world. Human rights, of which freedom of speech is one, are not exactly upheld everywhere, are they? This begs several questions:

  • “Which lives are deserving of being mourned?”
  • Which lives deserve to be protected?”
  • “Who has freedom of expression …ever? “

The French – upholders of rights

“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it.”

This wonderful democratic ideal (in all its many permutations) has been ascribed to Voltaire. Marvellous concept, but is this not a luxury for the very few? For most people their identities are tied up with their belief system. It requires enormous philosophical maturity to be able to see the tenets according to which we define ourselves to ourselves, mocked. I cannot even at all times speak my mind in my own home, without hurting somebody.  We have to remain sensitive and respectful and in doing so we can but hope that the same will be done unto us. Berlusconi was reprimanded for his Jewish joke and claimed the right to free speech.  When asked if he minded the many cartoons depicting him in his silly glass box ‘Pope-mobile’ with his sandaled feet pedalling away underneath, the pontiff had the grace to say he totally loved it- it made people think.

Relativism:

“accepted standards of right and good vary with environment and from person to person”

I think (tsk) that what cartoonists try to do is to make us think. They make meaning with pictures out of complicated issues – we literally do not have the words. President Zuma’s appalling behaviour around the ghastly issue of rape and HIV, (as if his polygamy and being the begetter of 32 children is not embarrassing enough to South Africans) … could only be put into perspective by that shower head that followed him around in cartoons in the media. Satire ‘relativises’ things for us, but this is only possible when we are secure in ourselves and our beliefs. If you do not know who you are, the denigration of the symbols that prop you up is hugely humiliating, and humiliation is the pathway to violence.

The problem with all religions is that it has no relativistic ability; it deals in ultimates.  From there it is a short step to knowing what is right for other people. The road to individuation is long and painful, and in the meantime people feel they must belong to a group to feel secure.  Naturally membership of the group curtails freedom of expression, as it weakens the group.

WHO BENEFITS?

“never teach politics; it is far too criminal a subject to teach children.” (W.H Auden)

To see a complacent Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who has no respect for the lives of Palestinians, walking in the post Charlie Hebdo parade, made me re-think the whole situation. A member of the Charlie Hebdo staff said, sweepingly, in an interview that secularism was under attack. That is as fundamental a notion as the belief system that supposedly launched the act of terror. Then the two suspects are conveniently killed, and cannot be questioned. This was after the one brother was considerate enough to leave his identity card in the car. Amazingly amateurish for Al Qaeda inspired assassins, don’t you think? Too many aspects do not rhyme in this whole business, and I am 99% certain we do not know the truth of matters.

In the meantime, who has benefited from the whole debacle? Certainly it has hugely damaged the credibility of the principles of Islam and the intentions of Islamic organisations. On the other hand, certainly the right wing in France has scored major popularity points, and immigration will become a dirty word. Certainly the magazine itself – from printing 60 000 copies before the massacre they sold out 3 million copies in twelve languages.

I think something good (possibly purely accidentally) has come out of the horror: leaders from all over the world and from various ideological standpoints (including prominent Islamic figures) united to protest against terrorism. It is time for leaders to condemn attacks on civilians openly – silence has been consent for too long. The leaders of the Islamic world have to speak out more strongly. Just remember that Obama and Cameron … like Bush and Blair before them, also have blood on their hands when it comes to the loss of civilian lives.

Comedy is an act of courage, but so is daily life in Syria … and on the Cape flats.

Will a million people rally in protest for them?

The Career of Robin Williams

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The Illustruous Career of Robin Williams

Where did acting start for Robin Williams?

He was a shy and overweight child and other children didn’t want to play with him. To entertain himself, he used to talk in different voices, perhaps as imaginary friends.

Whilst performing in night clubs, he was discovered for the role in an episode of TV series Happy Days in 1974. This lead to a role in Mork and Mindy,  in 1978. In the role as the alien Mork, he became famous. Then later also with stand up comedy.  In 1997, he was named funniest man alive by Entertainment Weekly. They also listed him as one of the 25 best Actors way back in 1998 .

In 2004, Robin Williams made the 13th place on Comedy Central’s list of 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. Movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage, casted Robin Williams in comedy roles.

Not only is his face famous, but also his voice in movies Aladdin, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Robots, Happy Feet and Everyone’s Hero.

However, we will never forget his dramatic movies such as Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Hook, Awakenings and What Dreams May Come. Robin Williams also acted in thrillers Insomnia and One Hour Photo. He was the all-rounder of Hollywood. 

Robin Williams in stand-up comedy

He has done various stand-up comedy tours. Some of his tours were:

  • An Evening With Robin Williams
  • Robin Williams: At The Met
  • Robin Williams LIVE on Broadway

The latter won a Grammy in 2003.

Robin Williams in the movies

Williams won an Oscar in 1998 for the best actor in a supporting role in the movie Good Will Hunting. He had Oscar nominations for best actor in a leading role in the movies The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society  and Good Morning, Vietnam. He won a Golden Globe award for Mrs. Doubtfire. He has claimed 44 other awards and was nominated for many other awards throughout his career.

The top 10 Robin Williams Movies are:

  • Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • Happy Feet (2006)
  • Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
  • Patch Adams (1998)
  • Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • Jumanji (1995)
  • Bicentennial Man (1999)
  • Toys (1992)
  • Hook (1991)

Robin Williams Movies over the past 10 years

  • 2011    Happy Feet 2  his voice was used
  • 2009    Old Dogs as Dan
  • 2009    Shrink as Holden
  • 2009    Night at the Museum 2 as Teddy Roosevelt
  • 2009    World’s Greatest Dad as Lance Clayton
  • 2007    License to Wed           as Reverend Frank
  • 2007    August Rush as Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace
  • 2006    Man of the Year as Tom Dobbs
  • 2006    Night At The Museum as Theodore Roosevelt
  • 2006    RV as Bob Munro
  • 2006    The Night Listener as Gabriel Noone
  • 2005    In Search of Ted as Demme
  • 2005    The Big White as Paul Barnell
  • 2005    Robotsas Fender
  • 2005    The Aristocrats            as Himself
  • 2004    Noel as Charlie Boyd
  • 2004    House of D as Pappass
  • 2004    The Final Cut as Alan W. Hakman

Robin Williams acted in the forthcoming film “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” playing the statue of Teddy Roosevelt  and holiday comedy “Merry Friggin’ Christmas.”

He is without a trace of doubt, a legend in the entertainment world.

Ref.: robinwilliamsmovies.com