Friday, October 17, 2008

Give free rice to hungry people by playing a simple game - Spread the word about hunger

This is my contribution to help spread the word about hunger on World Food Day 16 October 2008.

Top tips: Don't waste an inch of food or water. Cook fresh home made meals from scratch. Don't drink unnatural juice. Make and mend. Recycle food, water, paper, metal, glass. Adopt a rescue cat to ensure no mice. Adopt a rescue dog for self protection and healthy exercise. Respect the land, sea and air. Be kind and generous. Try to love all people, animals, insects, flowers, trees and plants. Care about what happens to the thirsty, hungry, homeless, sick, disabled, and elderly. Visit friends in person or write note instead of phoning. Cut down on petrol pollution and plastic waste. Don't drive a distance that you could easily walk, bus or cycle. Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. Tithe 10% of your income and see how much more you receive in return.
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Notable Quote

"The best things in life aren't things" - Art Buchwald (Credit: Bloomberg TV)
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On World Food Day - October 16, Spread the word about hunger

Give free rice to hungry people by playing a simple game that increases your knowledge.

World Food Day 16 October

Visit FreeRice, www.freerice.com, to translate your right answers into rice for the hungry.

147,750,140 grains of rice donated yesterday. Over 47 billion grains donated to date. Sponsors pay for the donated rice.

Click into www.freerice.com and give the right answer in the middle of the page. I reached level 41 with a donation total of 3040 grains. Will do more later.

"Help us mark World Food Day this year as high food prices, dramatic increases in fuel costs, and profound changes in climate conditions have conspired to bring new dimensions of suffering and hardship to the poor, depriving almost one billion people of the food they need to live a healthy life."  - UN

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S.O.S. Please email Uganda Watch - 2 years of emails lost

On Wednesday, 15 October 2008, two engineers from British Telecom IT Support were here for a specially ordered appointment to ensure a smooth changeover from my current ISP, Virgin Media, to BT Broadband.

Sadly, it turned into a 3-hour job. The engineer, after deleting the Virgin email address from my PowerBook G4 (Mac OS X 10.3.9) said it had never occurred to him that the contents of my AppleMac drafts email folder would also be deleted, along with the contents of my folders for sent and incoming emails. In their experience, such a thing had never happened before.

Groan. Over the past 3-4 weeks, on top of the 3 hours Wednesday, I've spent what seems like a total of 20 hours on the phone to BT, from here to Scotland and India, ever since initial call to BT's broadband sales office.

BT couldn't set me up for broadband for a few weeks resulting in connection to BT dial-up service in the interim - for which I almost got charged £18 for Day One if I hadn't checked tarriff for the 'Pay As You Go' option that BT signed me up to, instead of the 'Anytime' package costing £1 for first month.

Not to mention the ordeal I went though trying to obtain an internet cable for a few weeks of the dial up service. And then the service itself. By the end of Day One, BT dial up Tech Support told me the loss of connection every few minutes was nothing to do with them and blamed my internal modem as being corrupted and broken. Not true, I discovered next day.

Yesterday morning, I awoke feeling gutted, bereft and exhausted over the whole experience. More than one thousand draft items and scores of photos for future blogposts which, despite Apple's best efforts (a further 1-hour ordeak over phone) are no longer recoverable. All gone. Vanished. Forever. Nightmare.

Years of hard work and precious energy wasted. I feel sad at losing so much, just when I was getting back into the swing of things after ten bereavements (including my mother and three longstanding friends) and the toll it took on my health.

Chin up. Worse things happen at sea. I'll endeavour to continue blogging while working on piecing together lost drafts, updating email address in my blogs. re-subscribing to news alerts, etc.

Right now, the thought of having to find all the pieces to put back together again, and recall people's latest email addresses that may or not be in my computer's address book, is too overwhelming.

If you have ever emailed me, no matter how long ago, please email me NOW with copy of last email or just a few words or, better still, photo of your pet, to enable me to save your address safely in a new folder for easy future reference.

My new BT email address is now in the sidebar here at Uganda Watch.

I'm always here, with my cat Ophelia, happy to receive emails that are not spam. It still pains me to be so slow in replying. I fear that taking days, weeks, months, even years (!) to reply puts people off from staying in contact.

P.S.
Mostly I am sad at losing photos of pets belonging to some of my favourite bloggers. I adore cats and had collected some pretty special photos for a Cat Watch Blog that I'm creating as a place for me to visit when the going gets tough at my watch blogs and I feel disappointed in human beings.

If you know the personality of any cat (or dog, especially if it gets along with cats) and have a photo of the pet, please send it to me so I can create a little story for posting (with your permission and credit/link to you) at the most suitable of my three new blogs (currently under construction) namely: Cat Watch Blog, Heavenly Cats, Pets in Heaven.

Here's looking forward to learning about cats living in different parts of the world. I'm curious to know if cats all over the world have same habits and act in same way, or behave differently from mine here in England. If anyone ever thinks of sending us a greetings, especially over Christmas and New Year, anything for my pet blogs would be cheerfully received and warmly appreciated. I promise to reply with some observations and questions about your pet's charm and character.

Having said all that, I'm bracing myself for the possibility that no-one will take notice of this post although, even during blogging breaks, my network of blogs continue to receive thousands of visitors and page views. I have no idea of how many people read my blogs via a news reader and never visit in person. I don't even know if the feed for my Sudan Watch blog still works. It no longer works in my newsreader, NetNewsWire.

Hey is anybody out there? Please say something!

With love from Ingrid and cat Ophelia, posted by the sea on south west coast of England, UK xx

An edited version of this post will appear in some of my network of blogs, ie: Sudan Watch, Congo Watch, Ethiopia Watch, Niger Watch, Egypt Watch, Kenya Watch, China Tibet Watch, Tehran Watch, Syria Watch, ME/CFS Watch, ME AND OPHELIA.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Suicide bomber from Somalia may have slipped into Uganda

10 Oct 2008 The Monitor (Kampala) report by Tabu Butagira, Kololo - Uganda: Terrorism Threat is Real, Says Museveni - excerpt:
President Yoweri Museveni yesterday confirmed reports that security organisations are on high alert to tackle terrorist groups believed to be planning attacks in urban areas.

"Groups of urban terrorists may try to disturb (Uganda)," Mr Museveni said at celebrations to mark 46 years of Independence at Kololo. "But we shall deal with them using the vast security networks that we used during the (November 2007) Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and other occasions."

"Our involvement in peacekeeping operations in Somalia has made some characters there unhappy. Osama bin Laden and his group may try to cause trouble, and there is a possibility that some of them would want to disturb us," Maj. Gen. Kayihura said.

Uganda has provided troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia to help restore normalcy in the volatile Mogadishu city, but the forces have lately become targets of attack by Islamic Courts militia who once controlled large parts of the country a few years ago.

Daily Monitor has learnt that Ugandan intelligence agencies are frantically following a tip from their Kenyan counterparts that a man believed to be a suicide bomber from Somalia could have slipped into the country through Entebbe Airport at the end of last month.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Deployed peacekeeping veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have significant impairments in health-related quality of life

Nine years ago today, I was struck down with a flu like viral illness from which I never recovered. After the initial six months, my profoundly disabling condition was diagnosed by a Consultant Psychiatrist as a severe form of Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Still, to this day, there is no effective treatment or cure. In my experience, the condition is similar to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

Over the past nine years my energy level has increased from one half hour to two hours per day. I am still virtually housebound. Last March, I was able to attend my mother's funeral. Next month, I am scheduled to attend a long awaited appointment with a CFS Consultant. Several years ago, I was bedbound for two years.

The following definition of ME is from a paper I wrote with a very dear friend (recently departed, God rest his soul) in March 2003:
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis - ME

Evidenced by muscle pain, with inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, ME has been known for half a century as 'a-typical polio'. The symptoms of extreme lassitude, and the swift onset of exhaustion that characterise the disease, also caused it to be known for many years as 'chronic fatigue syndrome' or CFS. It was only classified by the World Health Organisation of the United Nations as a neurological disorder in 1969.

The disorder is triggered by a virus infection that occurs worldwide in epidemic and pandemic form: seasonally and in selected geographical areas. It affects about 1% of the British population and there is no known cure. While three-quarters of those who become infected do not present advanced symptoms, 25% of ME sufferers are chronically affected with severe illness and pain, causing them to become profoundly disabled and very largely housebound. The condition can last throughout life without remission of any kind.

Doctors and sufferers generally agree that the worst effects of the disease can be 'managed by strict adherence to conservation of energy, reduction of stress and simplification of work: augmented by education, with practical and economic support'.
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We're not lazy nor crazy, tiredness is the least of our problems

This post today, 10 October 2008, here at Uganda Watch, is to help raise awareness of the plight of military personnel suffering from ghastly life-wrecking Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Below are some excerpts taken from Science Daily online. More on this topic at a later date.
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Peacekeepers are exposed to traumatic events which they are helpless to prevent under the United National rules of engagement
While the relationship among Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and physical and mental health impairment is well developed in combat veterans, it is less studied among the deployed peacekeeping veteran population.

Peacekeepers are exposed to traumatic events which they are helpless to prevent under the United National rules of engagement, which state soldiers must show restraint and neutrality. The feeling of being unable to control a situation at the time of trauma is an important risk factor for developing PTSD.
More from ScienceDaily.com (Dec. 15, 2007):
Canada’s peacekeepers suffer similar rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) as combat, war-zone soldiers, according to a London, Ont. research team.

Psychiatrist J. Donald Richardson and his co-investigators also found that PTSD rates and severity were associated with younger age, single marital status and deployment frequency.
Vietnam Combat Linked To Many Diseases 20 Years Later
According to Boscarino, of the 1,399 Vietnam veterans studied, 24 percent (332) were diagnosed with PTSD sometime after military service, and nearly all cases of PTSD in the study resulted from exposure to heavy or very heavy combat in Vietnam.

He said his research and others' suggest that those with PTSD often have altered neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous systems. Disturbances in these key body systems are the main reason for increases in a broad spectrum of diseases among combat veterans, he said. His research also uncovered abnormal immune functioning and clear medical evidence of coronary artery disease among the veterans studied. Read more at ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 1997)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder May Result In Heart Disease
Combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to be at higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a recent study of 4,462 male U.S. Army veterans.

"We believe that this research suggests a clear, definitive linkage between exposure to severe stress and the onset of coronary heart disease in humans," said Boscarino. Read more at ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 1999)
PTSD Causes Early Death From Heart Disease, Study Suggests
A new study sheds light on the link between PTSD and heart disease. Vietnam veterans with PTSD suffered higher rates of heart disease death than veterans without PTSD.

The more severe the PTSD diagnosis, the greater the likelihood of death from heart disease, the study showed. Read more at ScienceDaily (July 8, 2008)
Whether combat or peacekeeping, PTSD impacts veterans' well-being
Deployed peacekeeping veterans with PTSD have significant impairments in health-related quality of life according to research by Dr. J. Donald Richardson of The University of Western Ontario and his co-investigators.

The research, published recently in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, found anxiety disorders such as PTSD are associated with impaired emotional well-being, and this applies just as much to peacekeeping veterans as to combat veterans. "This finding is important to clinicians working with the newer generation of veterans, as it stresses the importance of including measures of quality of life when evaluating veterans to better address their rehabilitation needs," says Dr. Richardson. "It is not enough to measure symptom changes with treatment; we need to objectively assess if treatment is improving their quality of life and how they are functioning in their community."

Richardson is a consultant psychiatrist with the Operational Stress Injury Clinic at Parkwood Hospital, part of St. Joseph's Health Care, London and a psychiatry professor with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western. His team studied 125 male, deployed Canadian Forces peacekeeping veterans who were referred for a psychiatric assessment. The average age of these men was 41, and they averaged 16 years of military service. The most common military theatre in which they served were the Balkan states (Bosnia, Croatia, former Yugoslavia, and Kosovo), with 83 per cent having exposure to combat or a war zone. Read more at ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2008)
Post Traumatic Stress Has Tripled Among Combat-exposed Military Personnel
Concerns have been raised about the health impact of military deployment. Studies have estimated as many as 30% of Vietnam War veterans developed post-traumatic stress disorder at some point following the war and, among 1991 Gulf War veterans, as many as 10% were reported to have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms years after returning from deployment. Read more at ScienceDaily (Jan. 17, 2008)
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Postscript

I would be interested to hear from anyone affected by above issues. Feel free to email me anytime and forgive me if I am slow to respond. Note, my current email address will cease on November 28, 2008 because I am switching my ISP to British Telecommunications (BT) Broadband.

With love from me and my cat Ophelia xx

[Afterthought: As my network of blogs receives thousands of regular visits from military, health orgs, unis, govts, etc., I have decided to cross post this whole entry at some of Sudan Watch's sister sites: Congo Watch, Uganda Watch, Ethiopia Watch, Niger Watch, Kenya Watch, Russia Watch.]

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

LRA chief Kony is just deceiving people, he will not sign, he said he will die in the bush. Forgiveness for ex Ugandan rebels starts on an egg

GULU, Uganda (Reuters) 29 Sep 2008 - Dressed in a button-down shirt and pressed trousers, a once-fearsome guerrilla from Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) steps on an egg.

Six former commanders follow suit, walking barefoot on the now-broken egg, placed atop of two branches in a T-shape. Dancers chant nearby.

"Our sons, we'd like to thank you for coming back," says Constantino Okot Ngomlokojo, chairman of the traditional courts for northern Uganda's Acholi ethnic group.

In Gulu town -- the center of LRA leader Joseph Kony's two-decade rebellion -- former rebels undergo the first of three cleansing rituals for a war that has become notorious for the use of mutilation, abduction and murder.

Rebels and Uganda's government agreed in February on how to deal with war crimes committed during the 22-year war in the north that has killed tens of thousands of people.

But peace remains as elusive as the LRA's self-proclaimed prophet leader, Kony, who has repeatedly failed to sign a final agreement, saying he wanted more explanation on a raft of deals signed at talks in neighboring south Sudan.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) wants Kony and two deputies for crimes like rape, murder and kidnapping. Rebels have vowed not to disarm until the charges are lifted.

Sitting beneath ancient mango trees at the ceremony, Captain Vincent Okema, formerly an LRA fighter for 15 years, said he had been waiting for this day for a long time but does not think peace will last.

"Kony is just deceiving people. He will not sign. I was one of his body guards and he told me that he will die in the bush," said Okema, who left the rebels last year.

"I can't judge people's feelings about me, but I want to go back home."

FORGIVENESS

Washing sweet potatoes in a village near the cleansing ceremony, Pamela Acieng said rebels should be forgiven for abducting her husband for four years and killing his brother.

"For the sake of peace, we can forgive, but they must face justice," the mother-of-four said.

Returning rebels do three cleansing rites before being accepted back into Acholi society. First a rebel like Captain Okema steps on an egg, which symbolizes purity, in a ritual in Gulu. He then returns to his village to do the same rite again.

Only later will Okema perform the "Mato oput" ceremony in which parties can confess crimes to their families, ask for forgiveness and pay damages.

"Anything they ask, I will do," Okema says when asked if he will make a confession.

Kampala and LRA rebels have agreed to set up a special division within the High Court to deal with more severe crimes. Lesser offences will be dealt with by traditional justice.

ICC supporters say only a judicial process with stiff jail terms for grave crimes is acceptable.

In a refugee camp some 470 km (300 miles) north of the capital, 73-year-old Genecio Oryem said he cannot forgive the rebels who left him to eke out a meager living making ropes.

"I have lost all my children . I am an old man, I can't go back to my village because I have no one to build me a home," the frail man said.

Sitting next to Oryem in the camp of thatched mud huts, 80-year-old Angelina Akech agreed. "I don't see the rebels so how can I forgive?"

Source: Reuters via Yahoo Xtra News 29 September 2008.

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Forgiveness for ex Ugandan rebels starts on an egg

GULU, Uganda (Reuters) - Dressed in a button-down shirt and pressed trousers, a once-fearsome guerrilla from Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) steps on an egg.

Six former commanders follow suit, walking barefoot on the now-broken egg, placed atop of two branches in a T-shape. Dancers chant nearby.

"Our sons, we'd like to thank you for coming back," says Constantino Okot Ngomlokojo, chairman of the traditional courts for northern Uganda's Acholi ethnic group.

In Gulu town -- the center of LRA leader Joseph Kony's two-decade rebellion -- former rebels undergo the first of three cleansing rituals for a war that has become notorious for the use of mutilation, abduction and murder.

Rebels and Uganda's government agreed in February on how to deal with war crimes committed during the 22-year war in the north that has killed tens of thousands of people.

But peace remains as elusive as the LRA's self-proclaimed prophet leader, Kony, who has repeatedly failed to sign a final agreement, saying he wanted more explanation on a raft of deals signed at talks in neighboring south Sudan.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) wants Kony and two deputies for crimes like rape, murder and kidnapping. Rebels have vowed not to disarm until the charges are lifted.

Sitting beneath ancient mango trees at the ceremony, Captain Vincent Okema, formerly an LRA fighter for 15 years, said he had been waiting for this day for a long time but does not think peace will last.

"Kony is just deceiving people. He will not sign. I was one of his body guards and he told me that he will die in the bush," said Okema, who left the rebels last year.

"I can't judge people's feelings about me, but I want to go back home."

FORGIVENESS

Washing sweet potatoes in a village near the cleansing ceremony, Pamela Acieng said rebels should be forgiven for abducting her husband for four years and killing his brother.

"For the sake of peace, we can forgive, but they must face justice," the mother-of-four said.

Returning rebels do three cleansing rites before being accepted back into Acholi society. First a rebel like Captain Okema steps on an egg, which symbolizes purity, in a ritual in Gulu. He then returns to his village to do the same rite again.

Only later will Okema perform the "Mato oput" ceremony in which parties can confess crimes to their families, ask for forgiveness and pay damages.

"Anything they ask, I will do," Okema says when asked if he will make a confession.

Kampala and LRA rebels have agreed to set up a special division within the High Court to deal with more severe crimes. Lesser offences will be dealt with by traditional justice.

ICC supporters say only a judicial process with stiff jail terms for grave crimes is acceptable.

In a refugee camp some 470 km (300 miles) north of the capital, 73-year-old Genecio Oryem said he cannot forgive the rebels who left him to eke out a meager living making ropes.

"I have lost all my children . I am an old man, I can't go back to my village because I have no one to build me a home," the frail man said.

Sitting next to Oryem in the camp of thatched mud huts, 80-year-old Angelina Akech agreed. "I don't see the rebels so how can I forgive?"

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Uganda urges aid agencies to starve LRA rebels for peace

See Congo Watch October 7, 2008: Uganda: Starve rebels for peace.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

ICC renews call for Ugandan rebel leader Kony's arrest

Copy of AFP report via MONUC Monday, 06 October 2008 - ICC renews call for Ugandan rebel leader Kony's arrest:

THE HAGUE, Oct 6, 2008 (AFP) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court renewed calls Monday for the arrest of Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony following attacks by the Ugandan rebel group on Congolese citizens.

"In the light of serious and converging information on attacks by the LRA against civilians in the DRC, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo calls for renewed efforts to arrest LRA leader Kony and his top commanders," said a statement issued in The Hague.

"The criminals remain at large and continue to commit crimes and they are threatening the entire region. Arrest is long overdue."

The prosecutor claimed the LRA attacked villages in the Haut Uele district of the Democratic Republic of Congo on September 17.

"These attacks all follow a similar method with markets surrounded and looted, students abducted from school, properties burned and dozens of civilians killed, including several local chiefs," said the statement.

"Tens of thousands have now been displaced.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for Kony and two other top LRA commanders, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, in 2005.

They are accused of raping and mutilating civilians, enlisting child soldiers and massacring thousands.

In July, southern Sudanese lawmakers urged the ICC to defer the indictments to encourage the rebel leaders to sign a Sudan-mediated Ugandan peace agreement.

Kony has so far refused to sign the accord on the basis of the ICC arrest warrants.

"Kony -- just as he has many times in the past -- uses the peace talks to gain time and support, to rearm and attack again," said the prosecutor's statement.

"The price paid today by civilians is high."

Moreno-Ocampo's office urged regional and international organisations to support DR Congo and Uganda in planning and executing the arrests.

A semi-literate former altar boy, Kony took charge in 1988 of a regional rebellion among northern Uganda's ethnic Acholi minority.

Twenty years of fighting between the rebels and government forces have left tens of thousands dead and displaced two million people, mainly in northern Uganda.

monuc.org © 1999-2006 United Nations - MONUC

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