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Love rats in cheap trousers win prize for weird science PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 25 September 2016 12:25

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/love-rats-in-cheap-trousers-win-prize-for-weird-science-zfj7rxxdg

Love rats in cheap trousers win prize for weird science

 

Tom Whipple, Science Editor - September 23 2016, 12:01am, The Times

When an Egyptian fertility researcher dressed 75 rats in rodent-sized trousers to see how it affected their sex lives, two things were guaranteed. First, Ahmed Shafik’s paper would have the cutest diagrams ever published in the journal European Urology. Second, he would win an Ig Nobel award. 

His discovery that rats which had previously worn polyester trousers were less sexually successful last night earned him the Ig Nobel Prize in Reproduction.

The annual awards, which reward research that “First makes you laugh, then makes you think”, also honoured a team for their psychology paper “From Junior to Senior Pinocchio: A Cross-Sectional Lifespan Investigation of Deception”. According to their citation, read out at the 26th annual ceremony at Harvard, they were chosen for “asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers”.

Since their launch in 1990, the Ig Nobels have become a fixture of the scientific calendar. Theirgoal is not to find bad research but instead to find good-quality studies that are also amusing. Most scientists consider them to be an honour, although they are not just about prestige — there is a cash prize of a Zimbabwean ten trillion dollar bill.

Past winners include Sir Andre Geim for “magnetic levitation of a frog”. Sir Andre, the co-discoverer of graphene, remains the only person to win both a Nobel and an Ig Nobel Prize.

Notable winners this year included Japanese researchers “for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between yourlegs”, and a team from Britain and New Zealand which won the economics prize for “assessing the perceived personalities of rocks from a sales and marketing perspective”. The literature prize went to Fredrik Sjoberg from Sweden for “his three–volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead”.

The winner of the chemistry prize had been widely predicted. It went to Volkswagen for “solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.”

 
The Precipice PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 28 August 2016 14:04

The Precipice

 

Eddie Cross Harare, 27th August 2016

 

Yesterday was a bizarre experience. In the morning I planned to take part in a march that was due to be led by 18 political parties to the Headquarters of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission where a petition on electoral reform was to be handed over.  All previous MDC marches had been peaceful, happy events, virtually no Police presence and not a hint of violence or trouble.

 

Well before I got to the rallying point, I saw people running and vehicles turning around and going back the way they had come. This was two hours before the event was due to start. When I got to about a kilometer from the point we were meant to start from, I saw the first tear gas and water cannons.

 

I saw a group of young people looking down the road and stopped to ask what was happening. They said “we got clearance from the Courts to march and were going to Freedom Square (Zanu PF calls it Robert Mugabe Square) when we were tear gassed by the Police”. They advised me it was dangerous to go any further. I proceeded to the collection point through rock strewn roads, burning tires and saw running battles between young people and the Police. I saw water cannons in action with blue dye in the water and one machine putting out a fire.

 

The main road through the City was totally deserted, the Agricultural Show grounds, normally packed with visitors and opened officially the previous day by the Vice President of Sierra Leone, was also abandoned – not a vehicle in sight, the only people were the Police and the small running groups of protestors. There was drifting clouds of tear gas and smoke everywhere.

 

I left the area and drove to Parliament to wash my face and get the tear gas out of my eyes. Then I tried to go back but was completely blocked by cars fleeing the battles in the CBD. Subsequently the street battles raged over much of the City, business closed down and the streets deserted. The army was deployed and helicopters were put up to monitor the people.

Was there any need for this? Absolutely not! I had participated in four previous marches and had not felt for one instance, any threat or danger. Just cheerful thousands celebrating their right to protest the state of crisis through which we are all living. The violence was instigated by the Police who were totally responsible for what followed. I had previously warned colleagues in Parliament that the tension on the streets was palpable and that everyone needed to be careful when handling any protests.

 

The previous Wednesday, a tiny demonstration by 200 MDC Youth in the CBD had also been attacked by the Police – perhaps more justified because they were defying a decision to turn down their request to demonstrate. But what then happened should have taught the authorities a lesson – the general population joined in and mayhem reined for the next 4 hours eventually shutting down the whole City. Cars were burned, shops looted and a great deal of damage was done.

 

Yesterday, I drove away from the mayhem in the CBD and went to my next meeting which was a lunch with the Centenary Club – now over 120 years old and located in the Royal Harare Golf Club. I ordered a coke and sat on the balcony and watched the golfers and their caddies on the freeways. It must be one of the finest golf courses in the world, certainly one of the most beautiful.

 

The Club was busy, the car park full of expensive cars, the waiters courteous and well trained, the weather perfect. It was a world away from the harsh realities just 4 kilometers away.

 

Zimbabwe always confuses visitors – they stay in our expensive hotels and resorts, enjoy the friendly people and the near complete safety on the streets. See our packed Churches on Sundays and play golf or watch cricket in circumstances that rival the very best.

 

An inch away from all of that is another reality – 5 million people on the edge of starvation and being fed by the international community, 90 per cent unemployment, banks with their doors closed because they have no cash, one third of all children are orphans, the lowest per capita incomes in the world. Corruption that takes a third of all we produce out of our mouths and is then used to feed the appetites of a tiny minority who are wealthy by any standard. A President who drives in a cavalcade that would do Obama proud and flies to Singapore once a month for a medical checkup in one of the most expensive clinics in the world.

 

But it cannot go on for much longer, the disparities are just too great, the suffering of the great majority has gone on for too long and the people’s legendary patience is running out. Zimbabwe is on the edge of a precipice and its own leadership has not got a clue about what to do. Certainly what they did yesterday was not the sensible thing to do in any way.

 

This week the Elders – a grouping that includes Tutu, Mrs Mandela and Annan, called on the SADC leadership, meeting this weekend in Swaziland, to recognise that the crisis in Zimbabwe must be addressed. They noted that a peaceful, dignified, legal and democratic transition is possible, but only if leadership is exercised. Left to our own devices with a paralysed leadership, we can only commit suicide.

 

In Tolstoy’s play “The Cherry Orchard”, a scarecrow in a wheat field plays a key, if symbolic role. In Zimbabwe, the Old Man of the country was taken from his bed, given a shot of something by his doctors and then trundled out in public to show that he was alive. He nearly fell as he climbed out of his car, had to be helped to walk in slippers at the Show Grounds and then sat silent and half asleep while the Vice President of Sierra Leone opened the Show. This is the leadership that is supposed to guide Zimbabwe away from the precipice. It is just not possible and everyone can now see that.

 

Like the scarecrow in Tolstoy’s play, he is not going anywhere and this shameful farce in terms of leadership continues while Zimbabwe burns. Our national debt is now approaching 3 times our GDP; interest on the debt alone is equal to one third of all State revenues. The budget deficit has spiraled out of control. The Civil Service is being paid with virtual money by electronic means but they cannot draw their salaries out of the banks. Even a child can sense that this state of affairs simply cannot go on.

 

South Africa has suddenly woken up as a result of a massive collapse of the trade with Zimbabwe. Tens of thousands of South African industrial jobs are at stake. Suddenly they appreciate that there is a leadership crisis in the country and that the crazies in the G40 and the Presidents bedroom are trying to take power from the scarecrows hands. That would toss us out of the frying pan into the fire.

 

The international Community agrees with the Elders that an orderly rescue mission is possible and could result in a legal, democratic transition. But it is not going to happen by itself. Leadership of a high order is required and quickly, or else this country is going to plunge over the edge of the precipice and will in turn drag the dual worlds represented by our smoking streets and the Harare Golf Clubs down together into the abyss.

 
Reflections on Pastor Mawarire's court case – Wednesday 13th July 2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 17 July 2016 12:17

Email from Eddie Cross 15th July 2016

Wednesday 13th July 2016 was a quite extraordinary day in Zimbabwe. It was the day the State brought the Pastor of a small Church to Court and charged him with treason and tried to deny him bail. His crime? Wearing a Zimbabwe flag around his neck in protest against the collapse of the economy, the failure of State policies and the suffering of the people. The week before he had called a national shut down which had been almost totally observed. A weird silence descended on the whole country.

Zimbabwe is a deeply Christian country and over 80 per cent claim to be Christian. In this case what we then saw was a spontaneous outpouring of support. This is the first time I have seen the Church in Zimbabwe combine on an issue and then take a stand. It is a game changer.

These are the reflections of one Pastor who was there in support.
 


REFLECTIONS OF THE DAY BY SCOTT MARQUES: River of Life Church, Harare, Zimbabwe

Tomorrow is another day and no doubt there will be challenges to face. The most important thing is that Kingdom of God is advancing, the Church is growing and Jesus is working out his purposes in an amazing way, for His Glory!

We saw today the leaders of the National Church, across all denominations, in unity with each other bringing prayer, blessing, peace and joy whilst massive tear-gas trucks and riot police stood aghast on stand-by.

We saw today the President of the EFZ, Dr. Shingi Munyeza, sit from morning to night in solidarity with Evan and many other church leaders there. I saw him lead an entire courtroom in prayer for Evan, for the Magistrate, for the Police and for Zimbabwe. Authority, humility, wisdom, truth and courage with every word.

We saw today these church leaders issue bold statements speaking truth in love to all Zimbabweans, giving direction and challenge.

We heard today 5000 people chant 'Pastor, Pastor, Pastor, Pastor . . . ' from outside the Magistrate's Court as the church lead the way in today's proceedings

We saw today 100s of lawyers standing for justice and offering their services Pro-Deo and Pro-Bono – many holding up their lawyers' ID when the magistrate asked who is taking this case.

We saw today a defence lawyer lay down his vanity and allow for a team-effort of all lawyers, thereby receiving a torrent of legal advice as half the court-room were some of the best legal minds in the country. Every word the defence lawyer uttered seemed to build the most insurmountable defence that the magistrate had ever heard.

We saw today the accused, Evan Mawarire, come up from the cells, from the bowels of the magistrate's court building, and hold his head high in the dock with a Zimbabwean flag around his neck. He stood resolutely, courageously trusting in God and continuing in his purpose.

We heard today 2000+ people outside the courtroom hold a 5 minute silence/prayer time as the court-hearing started at 2.15pm.

We heard today people excited in the courtroom about Sean Mullens who had just lead the masses outside to pray in groups as the afternoon entered its most challenging moment with some unrest setting in. I believe this altered the course of the day.

We saw today every race and tribe loving Jesus, loving one another and loving Zimbabwe today.

We heard today an overflowing courtroom sing 'Ishe Komborera Zimbabwe, Come Spirit, Holy Spirit' as we waited 2.5 hours for the verdict. Police included in the singing.

We saw today, after singing and praying in the courtroom, the riot police enter with AK-47's, truncheons and shields. We saw them honored by all inside and respectfully asked by a lawyer about their actions. We saw them reconsider and walk out after 5 minutes to great applause.

We sang today of 'The Blood of Jesus' (directly translated from Shona 'The Blood of God') at the top of my voice in the courtroom with hundreds of others. And many other amazing songs of worship.

We saw and heard today a judge bring a just and righteous judgement, not a word out of place – like poetry from beginning to end.

We saw something we have prayed for over years – dancing in the streets and joy in homes. We saw this as Evan and his family left the courts for home and the thousands remaining kicked–off the biggest street party that Harare may have ever seen. I watched this guy love his wife and kids, preferring them to personal glory or fame.

We saw today what could be something extraordinarily special for reconciliation and foundation-laying in Zimbabwe, even the influence of a continent.

Zimbabweans, through prayer, we render the baton stick, teargas, the AK 47 or any other weapon powerless. Let us remain united, peaceful and prayerful as we love our neighbour and raise our voices to the Lord.

 
Standing still is suicide – Zimbabwe Vigil protest, Thursday 14th July 2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 15 July 2016 12:15

Photolinks:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/28202027052/sizes/m/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/27691862933/sizes/m/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/27690296783/sizes/m/
           
The second day of solidarity demonstrations outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London drew even more people that attended on Wednesday when about 150 gathered to express support for Pastor Evan Mawarire’s call for a two-day shutdown in Zimbabwe.
 
It was one of the biggest gatherings held by the Zimbabwe Vigil in 14 years of campaigning for an end to human rights abuses and free and fair elections. Our banners strung between the four maple trees where we stage the weekly vigils were obscured today by the pressing crowd.
 
We were joined by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.  famous for his attempt to make a citizen’s arrest of Mugabe on visits to London in 1999 and Brussels in 2001 when he was savagely beaten by Mugabe’s bodyguards (see: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/mar/06/zimbabwe.andrewosborn). He paid tribute to the persistence of the Vigil and spoke of the ‘awesome’ courage of the demonstrators in Zimbabwe adding, ‘no tyranny lasts forever’ (see video: https://www.facebook.com/www.rohrzimbabwe.org/videos/vb.301811392835/10154288724147836/?type=2). Peter joined in the dancing (see video: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/28206729172/in/album-72157668189852073/).
 
We were also joined by a white Zimbabwean family who brought a striking poster reading ‘ Moving forward is perilous, moving backwards is cowardice, staying still is suicide’.
 
Vigil founder member and President of ROHR (Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe) Ephraim Tapa spoke of the suffering in Zimbabwe and said it was a man-made disaster caused by Mugabe (see video: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/27694083494/in/album-72157668189852073/).
 
After the Vigil on Saturday our forum will discuss our future activities in support of protest back home. For details of the meeting see below.
 
Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 16th July from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a sign at street level. It's next door to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn. ZAF meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
 
Thanks to Vimbai Karumbidza and Roseline Mukucha for looking after the register – Vimbai on Wednesday and Roseline on Thursday. Thanks to Cathrine Musa for bringing and distributing flyers to publicise the ZAF meeting on Saturday evening.
 
For photos and videos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157668189852073 and https://www.facebook.com/www.rohrzimbabwe.org/videos?fref=photo. Shingisai Suluma singing #ThisFlag is highly recommended: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMzx5UxLWWs.

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Zimvigil protests – 4th, 5th, 6th July 2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 10 July 2016 17:26

Zimvigil protests – 4th, 5th, 6th July 2016
 
The Zimbabwe Vigil and its sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe demonstrated for three days this week. We received several messages of congratulations including a twitter message from Dirk #ThisFlag Frey: ‘Much love to @zimvigil for giving Chinamasa a torrid time. Solid solidarity! Thank you comrades’ and a message from Eddie Cross MP:  ‘Thank you Team Zimbabwe once again for doing your Country proud – I think we sunk this ship well and truly’.
 
On Monday 4th July we were outside the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House to picket a meeting addressed by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. For a report of the protest check: http://zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/press-releases/797-chinamasa-besieged-in-london-monday-4th-july-2016 and for a video of the police protecting Chinamasa from the protestors check: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz9L0dL9aUs. Those who attended were: Alfredy Mukuvare, Cephas Maswoswa, Chipo Kamhunga, David Wilkins, Deborah Harry, Dennis Benton, Eldridge Culverwell, Emmaculate Tshuma, Fungayi Mabhunu, John Burke, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Rose Benton and Sandra Kudenga.
 
On Tuesday 5th July Vigil and ROHR supporters were joined by the MDC to picket Chinamasa and others at a money-raising conference in the City of London. Protestors were there from 7 am to 7 pm and managed to hold up Chinamasa’s lunchtime taxi for an hour with a sit-down protest. For reports of the day see:
http://zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/press-releases/798-chinamasa-confronted-again--tuesday-5th-july-2016
http://zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/press-releases/799-chinamasa-trapped-in-london--tuesday-5th-july-2016.
58 people signed the register including: Rashiwe Bayisayi, Deline Bura, John Burke, Muchineripi Chigwedere, Paul Chipamhadze, Mavis Chisvo, Percy Dube, Arnold Dube, Mary Eluwasi, Kidi Gotsi, Hellena Gusinyu, Isabell Gwatidzo, Lucia Gwenya, Chipo Kamhunga, Etines Kapiya, Vimbai Karumbidza, Prosper Karuru, Sandra Kudenga, Marjory Kunaka, Fungayi Mabhunu, Phylis Magejo, Phillip Mahlahla, Nancy Makurira, Rosemary Maponga, Patricia Masamba, Cephas Maswoswa, Lipi Mhlope, Sharon Moyo, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Esther Munyira, Edward Murota, Simbarashe Mutero, Sally Mutseyami, Vusumuzi Ncube, Tryness Ncube, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Mary Ndoro, Collins Nyamupfuknoza, Patricia Nyawo, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Elliot Pfebve, Jennipher Sabe, Eva Sanyahokwe, Alice Shimika, Zenzo Siziba, Ephraim Tapa, Emmaculate Tshuma, Cakes Vundla, Emma Whiley, Saziso Zulu and Elector Zvorwadza.
 
There are many videos of the day. Here are links to some of them:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na31BT2u_mc – Protestors sit down on the road and hold up Chinamasa’s taxi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgCX7vRFYhU – Patrick Chinamasa escorted from conference by London police
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXJEdEYeUOc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXLhp8TpUbg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAs7iJViI5g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsYxy6llttE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbl8bmHnT6k
https://www.facebook.com/www.rohrzimbabwe.org/videos/10154264266372836/
 
On Wednesday 6th July Vigil and ROHR activists turned out again outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London to express solidarity with the ‘stay away’ in Zimbabwe. For a report of the demonstration see: http://zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/press-releases/801-tajamuka--we-have-rebelled-wednesday-6th-july-2016. 31 people signed the register including: John Burke, Eldridge Culverwell, Percy Dube, Humphrey Dube, Mary Eluwasi, Chipo Kamhunga, Sarah Logan, Phylis Magejo, Ratidzai Makombe, Tungamirayi Makombe, Rosemary Maponga, Takura Masarira, Edward Murota, Mandifusa Mushambadope, Beverley Mutandiro, Kennedy Mutandiro, Simbarashe Mutero, Sally Mutseyami, Anna Mwanza, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Anna Pfende, Lara Rickard, Jonathan Terry, Ben Tsikwa and Craig Welling.
 
There were also protests at the Zimbabwe Embassy in South Africa on solidarity with the ‘stay away’ in Zimbabwe on Wednesday 6th July, check: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdrDXSh4eNA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJTwkU5UgEk.

Other videos are posted here: https://www.facebook.com/www.rohrzimbabwe.org/videos?fref=photo.

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